Tennis Champ Venus Williams Blamed for Fatal Wreck

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (CN) – Tennis star Venus Williams is being sued over a fatal June 9 crash in which her SUV violently collided with an elderly couple’s car outside a wealthy Palm Beach Gardens neighborhood.

Filed this afternoon in Palm Beach County court, the lawsuit blames the 5-time Wimbledon champion for a car crash that killed 78-year-old Jerome Barson.

Barson and his wife were driving through an intersection next to the BallenIsles residential complex in Gardens, when Williams pulled into their right-of-way from a crossing road, the lawsuit claims.

The tennis star’s 2010 Toyota Sequoia and the Barsons’ 2016 Hyundai Accent came together in a glass-shattering T-bone collision.

Photos of the scene show that the front end of the Hyundai was demolished.

Barson suffered torn main arteries, massive internal bleeding, organ damage and a fractured spine, according to the complaint.

“[He] fought for his life in the intensive care unit at St. Mary’s Medical Center but did not survive his injures,” the lawsuit says, noting that he passed away roughly 13 days after the accident.

His wife, Linda Barson, who was driving the Hyundai,  sustained a broken breastbone, shattered right arm and a broken hand, among other injuries, the lawsuit says.

The couple had been married for more than thirty years.

The accident occurred on Northlake Boulevard, a busy east-west thoroughfare through palm-tree-lined suburbia outside the upscale communities of BallenIsles and Steeplechase. Williams was driving out of Steeplechase’s community road at the time of the accident, according to the police report.

The complaint seeks to hold Williams liable for allegedly failing to yield right of way,  driving distracted, failing to stop at a red light, failing to observe oncoming traffic, and “driving carelessly and recklessly.”

Barson’s estate is represented by Michael Steinger of Steinger Iscoe & Greene in West Palm Beach.

Williams’ attorney issued a statement saying that Williams “expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one.”

He called the incident an “unfortunate accident.”

“The police report estimates that Ms. Williams was traveling at 5 miles per hour when Mrs. Barson crashed into her. Authorities did not issue Ms. Williams with any citations or traffic violations,” statement reads.

Williams told police she had entered the intersection on a green light, but stopped around the median break due to “other traffic,” the report says.

The initial police narrative states that she was at fault for the accident.

Court records show that Venus has a pair of old traffic citations in her county of residence, Palm Beach, though neither appears to be a moving violation.

She was cited for not carrying an insurance card in Sept. 2011, and received a ticket for “unknowingly operating vehicle with DL [driver’s license] suspended” in July 2013, the records show.

The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department declined to comment on the crash, citing an ongoing investigation.

Venus, along with her sister Serena Williams, have been a dominating force in women’s professional tennis for nearly 20 years. The two recently faced off in the finals of the Australian Open, with Serena prevailing in straight sets.

Venus has dozens of career singles titles and several Grand Slam wins including two U.S. Open singles championships.  As of June 30, she was the No. 11 player in the WTA worldwide rankings.

When news of the accident broke, Williams’ publicist reportedly told the AP that the tennis star was in London, preparing to play at Wimbledon.

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