Christie: Williams accident shines light on problem Northlake Blvd. intersection

Palm Beach Gardens resident and tennis player Venus Williams arrives for the grand opening of the Wellington Tennis Center June 09, 2015, in Wellington. Williams design company was involved in the design of the pro shop at the new facility. (Bill Ingram / Palm Beach Post)

The June 9 fatal accident involving tennis great Venus Williams has a lot of folks scratching their heads about who’s really at fault here.

RELATED: Cars in Venus Williams crash could be examined next week

The attorney for the family of Jerome Barson, the Acreage man who died from a fractured spine on June 22 as a result of the accident, believes Williams is at fault. The Barson family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Williams.

Linda and Jerome Barson were involved in a June 9, 2017, crash involving tennis star Venus Williams at Northlake Boulevard and BallenIsles Drive in Palm Beach Gardens. Jerome Barson died two weeks later. Photo Provided By Barson Family

But Williams’ attorney says she was in the intersection on Northlake Boulevard legally because she had a green light when she entered.

» RELATED: Venus Williams involved in fatal Palm Beach Gardens crash

Well, at least one Palm Beach Post letter writer has brought up a third party he believes may also have to answer questions about this tragic accident: the city of Palm Beach Gardens.

Gardens resident George Poncy says in a letter published in today’s editions of the Post that the intersection was always a fatality in waiting:

The newly released surveillance video of the Venus Williams crash confirms what any Steeplechase resident already suspected. Venus’ car was held up by a vehicle exiting BallenIsles that turned left in front of her, violating her right of way. Left-turning cars out of BallenIsles routinely cut off vehicles proceeding straight across the intersection. This is not the first fatality at that location — a few years ago, a young motorcyclist was killed, and there have been several other serious crashes at the same intersection.

The claim that the light turned green for east-west Northlake Boulevard traffic may be true, since the video appears to show three cars in all three eastbound lanes cross the intersection moments after the crash — indicating they likely had been stopped waiting for the light to change. Williams, having been cut off midway across Northlake, would have been unable to see the light, which at that point was directly overhead. The real party at fault here is the left-turning unidentified vehicle as well as Palm Beach Gardens, which has failed to correct a serious problem with the left-turning traffic out of BallenIsles. This situation has been a fatality waiting to happen, and now it has.

The location of the June 9, 2017, crash involving tennis star Venus Williams at Northlake Boulevard and BallenIsles Drive in Palm Beach Gardens on Thursday June 29, 2017. (Meghan McCarthy / The Palm Beach Post)

Why the police initially blamed Williams is problematic, and indicates they did not understand the hazard that existed (and still exists) at that intersection. The proposed examination of the vehicles involved is just a lawyers’ dance. Both vehicles might have avoided the accident with greater diligence, but neither created the problem.

A solution to the left-turning traffic out of BallenIsles routinely cutting off vehicles with the right of way moving in the opposite direction needs to be found, whether a left-turn arrow or some other means. As it stands, probably 100 tickets could be issued every day for this violation.

RELATED: Venus Williams crash: What caused ‘other traffic’ at intersection

It appears that regardless of what happens in the Barson family lawsuit against Williams, there’s a bigger issue here that deserves the attention of Gardens officials, and maybe even county transportation officials.