PALM BEACH GARDENS — Venus Williams can’t catch a break. After investigators decided that the tennis star was not at fault for the death of Jerome Barson, 78, the victim’s attorneys are now demanding access to her cell phone.
The Barson family, which filed a wrongful death lawsuit in June, now hope to prove Williams was on the phone and with her eyes off the road at the time of the fatal crash.
Though police initially said Williams may have been responsible for Barson’s death, they have since stepped back their allegations.
New court documents filed today request a forensic evaluation of the tennis star’s phone to see if she was chatting or texting at the time of the deadly collision.
“Evidence gathered thus far indicates [Williams] may have been distracted and or unnecessarily delayed in her reaction to applicable traffic signals and/or surrounding traffic,” the motion states.
Surveillance video of Williams in her car seconds before the crash shows her left elbow resting on the open window, though there isn’t any visible phone in sight.
In July, Barson’s lawyers had requested the champ’s phone records, but she has yet to comply with the petition.
The accident occurred on June 9 when Williams was stalled at an intersection in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. A Hyundai Accent, driven by Barson’s wife Linda drove through a green light and smashed into Williams. Jerome, a passenger in the car, sustained severe injuries and was transported to St. Mary’s Medical Center, where he died on June 22.
The Palm Beach Gardens Police Department at first blamed Williams for the accident since she was blocking the Hyundai’s right of way. Security footage though showed that she had driven into the intersection through a green light and stopped behind stalled traffic.
Williams’ lawyers have said Jerome Barson’s car was not up to code and the victim was not wearing a seatbelt. These allegations were refuted by the Barson legal team, who allege he was buckled in and that the Hyundai was “in perfect working order.”
Hopefully, this frustratingly contradictory case will come to a peaceable solution for both parties. In the meantime, we’ll keep our eyes on the rough road ahead.