Tennis star Venus Williams faces lawsuit over fatal car crash

Florida: The attorney for the woman whose husband was killed in a car crash with Venus Williams announced on Friday that the family will file a lawsuit against the tennis star.

Michael Steinger, actig for the family, is asking that police turn over evidence from the crash, which took place June 9 in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. The accident resulted in the death of Jerome Barson, a 78-year-old who was listed as a tennis professional on his death certificate.

"At this point, we are attempting to both preserve the evidence and gain access to evidence," Mr Steinger said on Good Morning America. 

"There were video cameras placed at guardhouses where Williams lives, police have refused after multiple requests to turn those over to us, and we would like to see visual portrayal of the accident on those videos.

"They have impounded all the vehicles and have impeded our ability to do our investigation and move forward. Not sure what their reasoning is. They have refused to turn them over to us at this point."

Court records obtained by the Palm Beach Post show that Barson's family listed "the expectation of recovery in an action for wrongful death" as his lone asset in a petition on behalf of his estate filed on Tuesday. There was no amount of money listed.

According to the police report, witnesses told investigators that Williams ran a red light in her 2010 Toyota Sequoia SUV as a car driven by Linda Barson entered the intersection on a green light at a speed that has not been confirmed.

"The driver of V2 (Barson) advised she proceeded thru the intersection when V1 (Williams) cut across in front of V2, and V2 was unable to avoid crashing into V1," the police report said, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Venus Williams

Venus Williams

Jerome Barson died Friday, two weeks after the crash, as a result of the injuries sustained as a passenger.

Williams, who was unhurt, told investigators she entered the six-lane intersection on a green light, but was forced to stop because of the traffic ahead of her. She said she did not see the Barsons' car when she crossed into their lanes.

The police report says Williams was driving around 8km/h when the crash occurred, and there's no evidence that alcohol, drugs or texting caused the crash. Still, the police report deemed Williams responsible for the incident because she didn't have the right of way.

Police in Palm Beach Gardens are still investigating the crash, and no criminal charges have been filed.

Legal expert Areva Martin told ABC charges were unlikely.

"To be charged criminally in an automobile accident, there has to be a finding of reckless or wanton conduct," Martin told ESPN.

"None of that appears to be the case, so it's unlikely she'd be held criminally responsible for the death of the man."

An attorney for Williams, who is about to begin her effort to win a sixth Wimbledon title, released a statement Thursday.

"The police report estimated that Ms Williams was travelling at 5 miles per hour when Mrs Barson crashed into her," Malcolm Cunningham said.

"This is an unfortunate accident and Venus expresses her deepest condolences to the family who lost a loved one."

Washington Post