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Police Reportedly Clear Venus Williams Of Blame In Fatal Car Crash

Venus Williams, seen in body camera footage from June, listens to a police officer following a car crash that fatally injured an elderly man.
Palm Beach Gardens Police Department via AP
Venus Williams, seen in body camera footage from June, listens to a police officer following a car crash that fatally injured an elderly man.

Venus Williams will not be charged in the collision that led to the death of a passenger in another car in Florida earlier this year, according to multiple media outlets quoting local police. The decision marks a reversal from authorities' initial assessment of the accident, which had laid fault primarily with the longtime tennis icon.

"Based upon this investigation and relevant Florida state statutes, no charges will be filed in this case," reads the assessment of the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department, as the local Sun Sentinel newspaper reports. The investigation also found no fault with the driver whose car struck Williams' vehicle.

The department did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment.

The results of the probe offer a new twist to the incident, the details of which have been unspooling unevenly since the fatal collision.

At first, authorities said Williams ran a red light and thus caused the crash that injured Jerome Barson, 78, who died of those injuries two weeks later. Yet not long afterward, police announced that surveillance footage appeared to show a different story — that Williams had actually entered the intersection legally before she was cut off and, in the words of The Associated Press, set off "a chain of events that seconds later resulted in a fatal crash with a third car."

Body camera footage released weeks later offered a closer look at the accident's aftermath, during which the officer on the scene told Williams he'd say she was at fault — but added, "I don't feel comfortable writing a citation when I'm not a hundred percent sure, and I'm not a hundred percent sure in this case."

Williams has not commented publicly on the report reportedly clearing her of blame. In June, after news of the crash surfaced, she wrote on Facebook that she was "devastated and heartbroken by this accident."

Wednesday's news does not bring an end to the questions surrounding the incident, however. There may be no criminal charges coming against Williams, but the Sun Sentinel notes that Barson's family has already filed a lawsuit against her.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Colin Dwyer covers breaking news for NPR. He reports on a wide array of subjects — from politics in Latin America and the Middle East, to the latest developments in sports and scientific research.

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