Venus Williams was cut-off by a driver making an abrupt left turn just before her fatal car crash in Florida and it appears to be a contributing factor in accident. The tennis star had to brake hard and the delay set the stage for the collision.
So far, it’s unknown whether police are investigating or seeking the identity of the second driver.
A dramatic video released of the June 9 collision shows Williams proceeding through the intersection behind another car after her light turns green.
The first car turned left without incident. But as Venus started forward, a car coming in the opposite direction abruptly cut her off by making a left turn in front of her.
Williams was forced to brake and come to a full stop. She began moving again after the car passed. But the delay was just enough to put her on a the fatal collision course.
She was still in the intersection of six-lane Northlake Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens, when the light turned green the other way.
Cars in the first two lanes started and stopped to let Venus go by. Since she was already in the intersection, she technically had the right of way.
No cars were in the far right lane of Northlake. However, a sedan driven by Linda Barson, 67 was in that lane approaching the intersection.
The Northlake light turned green and Barson never slowed down.
As Barson entered the intersection, her Hyundai sedan slammed into the front right side of Williams’ SUV still making its way across the boulevard.
Barson’s husband, Jerome J. Barson, 78, suffered internal injuries and died two weeks after the accident.
Since then, Palm Beach Gardens Police have flip-flopped on responsibility for the accident. At first, they blamed Williams. But after the latest video surfaced, police absolved her of fault.
The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department said in a statement July 10 that Williams “lawfully entered the intersection on a circular green traffic signal.”
So far, however, police have made no mention of the second driver who cut-off Williams in what appeared to be an illegal left turn. Drivers turning left must yield to drivers in the approaching lane.
If Williams hadn’t braked, she likely would have collided with that car. The errant driver clearly contributed to the accident.
Barson has sued Williams based on the earlier finding of fault by police.
While the new video has changed the department’s opinion of the case, it may not be enough to absolve Williams of at least partial fault for the accident.
The determining factor in court could be an obscure legal doctrine known as the “boulevard rule.”
The rule states that the driver of a vehicle entering a highway from a smaller road or entrance (called the “unfavored driver”) must stop and yield the right of way to all oncoming highway traffic (“the favored drivers”), no matter who has the green light.
It’s unknown whether the rule has been applied in Florida traffic cases, but that wouldn’t stop lawyers from making the argument in court to hold Williams at fault.
When it comes to traffic accidents Florida is also a no-fault state, which may weigh in either party’s favor depending on a final ruling on fault.
So far, police have not returned telephone calls for comment.
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