Tennis star Venus Williams "lawfully entered the intersection" before last month's fatal traffic collision in Florida, Palm Beach Gardens police said in a statement on Friday.
Police cited "new evidence" — video surveillance footage — that showed Williams' Toyota Sequoia had entered the intersection on June 9 legally before the collision. A Hyundai Accent driven by Linda Barson collided with Williams' SUV in an accident that left Linda Barson with multiple injuries and her husband, Jerome Barson, critically injured.
Jerome Barson died two weeks after the accident.
Williams was originally determined to be at fault in the accident after an initial investigation. Police said Friday that the investigation was ongoing.
"Based on the evidence obtained in the ongoing investigation, it has been determined the vehicle driven by Venus Williams lawfully entered the intersection on a circular green traffic signal, and attempted to travel north through the intersection to Ballenisles Drive," the police said in a statement. "As Williams was traveling through the intersection, a Nissan Altima entered the intersection traveling south, and made a left turn in front of Williams' vehicle, causing her to stop advancing through the intersection to avoid a collision.
"The traffic signal then cycled to green, at which time Barson continued westbound and entered the intersection. The front end of Barson's vehicle collided the right front of Williams' vehicle."
An auto negligence lawsuit filed by the estate of Jerome Barson was filed against Williams last week in Palm Beach County seeks unspecified monetary damages and a jury trial.
“The update from the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department and video released today show that Venus lawfully entered the intersection on a green light and was impeded in her progress through the intersection,” Malcolm Cunningham, Williams' lawyer, said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports. “As the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department points out, once Ms. Williams entered the intersection lawfully, she had the right to proceed through the intersection and other vehicles including those with a red light changing to green, were obligated to yield the right-of-way to Ms. Williams.
“Ms. Williams is grateful for the continued diligence and efforts of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department in its investigation. At the same time, as this process moves forward, she remains deeply saddened by the loss suffered by the Barson family and continues to keep them in her thoughts and prayers.”
According to the lawsuit, Jerome Barson suffered “severed main arteries, massive internal bleeding, a fractured spine and massive internal organ damage.
Linda Barson also required hospitalization after she suffered “a cracked sternum, shattered right arm, broken right wrist, hand and fingers,” according to the lawsuit.
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