Back in June, tennis superstar Venus Williams was involved in a three-car crash that resulted in the death of one elderly driver. While it initially seemed like Williams might face charges in conjunction with the accident and subsequent death, police have since determined that neither Williams nor the other driver involved will be charged.
According to police reports, Williams was trying to cross a six-lane highway when she was cut off by an unidentified vehicle. Williams was forced to stop, proceeding after the vehicle cleared her path. However, by that time, the traffic lights had changed, prompting Linda Barson to slam into the side of Williams’s SUV at 40 miles per hour (what some might see as a curiously high speed while traveling through a recently changed light at an intersection). While Linda Barson suffered minor injuries in the crash, her passenger, husband Jerome Barson, suffered organ failure from complications stemming from blunt force trauma. Emergency room visits now number 110 million every year in the United States, but unfortunately, doctors were unable to save Jerome’s life.
It was speculated that Williams might be charged for the fatality, but investigators later determined (with help from security camera footage) that neither Williams nor Barson actually violated each others’ right of way. The Barson estate, however, does not agree. Jerome Barson’s family plans to file a civil lawsuit for wrongful death against Williams and is seeking damages in excess of $15,000, according to ABC News. While plaintiffs win bench trials 68% of the time and jury trials 54% of the time in civil cases filed in state courts, it’s uncertain as to whether Williams will be found legally responsible for Jerome Barson’s death.
Williams competed at Wimbledon in the weeks following the crash and ultimately lost. When asked about the crash and fatality, Williams broke down in tears. While she likely feels relieved to not be facing criminal charges, she cannot yet put the incident behind her. Admittedly, $15,000 may not be all that consequential to Williams, a seven-time Grand Slam champion with on-court earnings of nearly $40 million. Still, Williams has maintained that she found the incident to be “completely devastating,” rendering her “speechless.”
Police reports have maintained Williams was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash, nor was she texting. She may have entered the intersection lawfully, but the Barson family believes her to be at fault. Considering that such an accident could happen to nearly anyone on the road, caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, incidents such as these may make motorists just a tad more cautious while behind the wheel.