UPDATE: Lawyer says victim’s family in Venus Williams crash ‘devastated’

Updated June 30, 2017
  • By Paige Fry
  • Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
In this March 13, 2017, file photo, Venus Williams returns a shot to Lucie Safarova at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, in Indian Wells, Calif. Venus Williams is making her 20th Wimbledon appearance. (Ap Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

UPDATE, 4:30 p.m: The attorney for Barson’s family, Michael Steinger, told The Palm Beach Post on Friday afternoon that his clients just want to get all the facts and the evidence of the case in order to reach closure.

Steinger said that he’s working with the family and the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department to try to obtain any video evidence or additional witness statements. He also said that Williams nor her attorney has tried contacting the family at any point since the crash.

“At this point, Mrs. Barson is just overwhelmed with grief and completely devastated by the loss of her husband,” he said.

He said Jerome and Linda Barson met when he taught tennis at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami Beach. The two did everything together since then. Their family also is very close but private and didn’t anticipate all of the public attention following the crash. Previous to teaching tennis, Jerome taught math and social studies at a high school in Philadelphia and was a chemist for the Department of Agriculture in Philadelphia until moving to Florida in 1975.

At the time of the crash, the couple was driving to do errands for an upcoming Disney Cruise with their children and grandchildren.

“Instead of an amazing wonderful start to the summer, they have just devastation to their life,” Steinger said.

The wife also is still recovering from the injuries she sustained from the crash, and Steinger said they “do not know the ultimate outcome” of her injuries.

Williams’ attorney, F. Malcolm Cunningham Jr., said he didn’t want to comment on the lawsuit. He confirmed that he has not personally spoken to the family nor the family’s attorney, but his client has made a public statement offering her condolences to the family.

“I wouldn’t expect Ms. Williams to speak directly to a lawyer,” he said. “It’s quite an unfortunate accident — there’s no doubt about it. At the same time, Ms. Williams entered that intersection at a green light.”

UPDATE, 3:10 p.m.: The wrongful death lawsuit filed by Jerome Barson’s daughter, Audrey Gassner-Dunayer, states that Barson’s fatal injuries from the wreck included an inter alia, cuts, served main arteries, massive internal bleeding, a fractured spine and massive internal organ damage.

The lawsuit stated that Barson’s wife, Linda Barson, who was the driver of the car, also suffered injuries from the crash. Her injuries inter alia, a cracked sternum, shattered right arm, broken right wrist, hand and fingers. The two were married for over 33 years and have seven grandchildren.

The report said that Linda is suffering grief and mental pain due to the lost of her husband that was caused by Williams “failing to yield the right of way, failing to stop at a red-light, failure to obey a traffic control device, failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to stop for oncoming traffic, driving too fast for the conditions, driving carelessly and recklessly and distracted drivings.”

The report then asked for judgment for damages against Williams with interest and costs and demands a trail by jury.

William Abramson, a Florida criminal and traffic attorney, said that the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department isn’t required to release any evidence to the crash, including the surveillance video, due to the ongoing investigation. He also said that there most likely isn’t a case for a criminal charges because no alcohol, no drugs and no reckless driving has been reported.

If Williams is issued a ticket, they still have to proved her guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and now it’s just the victim’s word against Williams’ claims. A video and a witness outside of the two parties would have more of a say in what happened in the crash.

“The most important thing is where the vehicles were at the time the light changed,” Abramson said.

UPDATE, 2:10 p.m.: The Palm Beach Gardens Police department said it initiated an investigation into the fatal crash involving tennis star Venus Williams. The department said it can’t provided any additional information about the crash because of the investigation as per Florida Statutes.

UPDATE, 1:30 p.m.: The lawyer of Jerome Barson’s family, Michael Steinger, said he believes the Palm Beach Gardens police have “impeded” their investigation into the crash by not releasing video evidence, he said on Good Morning America Friday morning.

“There are video cameras that were placed at guard houses where Ms. Williams lives and the police have refused, after multiple requests, to turn those over to us and we would like to see a visual portrayal of the accident on those videos,” Steinger said on the show.

The Palm Beach Post has not been able to reach Steinger for comment after multiple requests. Palm Beach Gardens Police Department spokesman Maj. Paul Rogers said the department didn’t have a statement prepared when reached by the Post, but may release a statement in the near future.

Audrey Gassner-Dunayer, who is listed as Barson’s daughter, denied to comment about Barson and the lawsuit against Williams. She referred all questions to her lawyer.

UPDATE, 11:50 a.m.: Attorney F. Malcolm Cunningham Jr., representing Venus Williams, said he was aware of the lawsuit filed against his client, but he denied to comment further at the moment.

Original story: The family of a man killed in a wreck caused by tennis star Venus Williams has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her.

Jerome Barson, 78, died on June 22 because of injuries caused by a crash involving Williams on June 9 in front of the BallenIsles Country Club. A Palm Beach Gardens police report found Williams to be at fault for violating a right of way.

Now, the deceased’s daughter is suing Williams for the death of her father, which, she claims in the suit, was caused “as a result of the negligence” of Williams.

RELATED: Venus Williams involved in fatal Palm Beach Gardens crash

Williams told police she was leaving the Steeplechase community south of BallenIsles and crossing Northlake Boulevard when traffic forced her to stop while blocking a lane outside BallenIsles. That’s when Ester Linda Barson, 68, of The Acreage, who told police she had a green light, T-boned William’s vehicle. Her husband was in the passenger seat and suffered head injuries and was taken to St. Mary’s Medical Center, where he later died on his wife’s birthday.