Investigators will review cellphone records to determine why a tabloid freelance photographer was at the point of impact where former Olympian and celebrity TV star Bruce Jenner’s SUV crashed, killing a woman.
Traffic was flowing normally on Sunday at the crash scene in front of a campground at Latigo Beach, three miles west of the Malibu Civic Center. The coroner’s office had yet to release the name of the woman killed in a white Lexus in the multi-car crash.
TMZ.com published a series of three photos of the impact within 70 minutes of the Saturday crash. The woman in the Lexus was plainly visible, but her face had been blurred, apparently either by TMZ or the paparazzi agency that took those photos, Splash News/INF.
“We’ve seen he (Jenner) appears to be holding a cellphone, we don’t know if he was on a cellphone while he was driving,” Sgt. Phillip Brooks told City News Service. “In a case like this, we’ll ask or get a warrant to examine his cellphone records.”
Brooks also said the department wants to know why traffic suddenly slowed or stopped, directly in front of a paparazzo photographer, as other paparazzi were tailing a celebrity headed that way.
“Mr. Jenner is constantly followed by paparazzi, he was aware of paparazzi following him,” Brooks said. “He was not trying to elude them or anything (and) they were not chasing him. They just follow him and he knows ‘yeah there’s paparazzi with me.vAs you know, on PCH it’s a straight highway, you can’t elude anyone.”
At least three children and two adults were also hurt in the pile-up Saturday, when a black Toyota Prius slowed or stopped for some reason several hundred feet before the Pacific Coast Highway traffic signal at Corral Canyon Road.
That car was rear-ended by the white Lexus, which in turn was hit hard by a Cadillac Escalade driven by Jenner. The Lexus was shoved into opposing traffic, where it was hit head-on by a Hummer H2.
“You have a car that was essentially sandwiched by the two heaviest cars possible on the road,” Brooks said.
Jenner, the 1976 Olympic decathlon gold medal winner and a star of the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” reality TV show, was unhurt, his publicist Alan Nierob said. He made headlines recently with the revelation he was transitioning to become a woman.
A major issue that remained unclear was why the Prius, driven by a woman, had stopped or slowed. “She’s not paparazzi, she was kind of unclear” why she was blocking traffic, Brooks told City News Service.
The trailer had brakes that left skid marks, which are being analyzed to determine the Escalade’s speed, he said.
About 6 1/2 hours after the fatal crash, a 44-year-old man drove his car through two sets of police tape, past several cruisers with blinking lights, and plowed into the Lexus. Traffic investigators were just finishing their laser and GPS measurements, and said the Jenner case evidence was not compromised.
The man reportedly had been drinking wine at a restaurant next to the crash scene. He was arrested for suspicion of drunken driving.
PCH was reopened to traffic at about 9:30 p.m. Saturday.
Paparazzi have been a contentious issue in Malibu. Groups of freelance photographers often are seen outside restaurants, grocery stores and other public places, prompting some property owners to post “paparazzi free zone” signs.
—Staff and wire reports