Los Angeles — Sheriff’s investigators on Monday were contacting Bruce Jenner and other drivers involved in a fatal chain-reaction crash in Southern California to ask for access to their cellphone records, authorities said.
They’re trying to determine if distracted driving played a role in Saturday’s four-vehicle crash on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
Such a request has become routine in collisions where someone is killed, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Philip Brooks said.
A publicist for Jenner said the Olympic gold medalist was not texting while driving and the evidence will show that.
Alan Nierob said late Sunday that investigators had not yet requested Jenner’s cellphone records but Jenner will provide them if they do.
Jenner was driving a black Cadillac Escalade when he rear-ended a Lexus sedan. The sedan had already slammed into a Toyota Prius that had slowed or stopped on the highway, sheriff’s Sgt. Philip Brooks said.
After it was hit by Jenner’s Cadillac, the Lexus veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a black Hummer. The driver of the Lexus — Kim Howe, 69, of Calabasas — died at the scene.
California Department of Motor Vehicle records showed Howe’s license had expired in 2007. Brooks said Monday investigators have not yet looked into that, but that it probably won’t be a key issue since she was killed.
In his first comments since Saturday’s crash, Jenner called the wreck a “devastating tragedy” and vowed to cooperate with investigators.
“My heartfelt and deepest sympathies go out to the family and loved ones, and to all of those who were involved or injured in this terrible accident,” Jenner said in a statement Sunday evening. “It is a devastating tragedy. I cannot pretend to imagine what this family is going through at this time. I am praying for them.”
The moment of impact was captured by celebrity photographers, who quickly posted the images on the Internet. The photos show the white Lexus mangled in the front and back, facing the Hummer, which had a heavily damaged engine and its hood popped open. Jenner’s Escalade, which was pulling an off-road vehicle on a trailer, had a damaged front end.
Though paparazzi often trail Jenner, there was no indication he was being chased by photographers at the time of the crash, authorities said.
Sheriff’s investigators will examine photographs of the crash. They also were seeking witnesses, and any photos or videos from bystanders, including paparazzi, in what’s expected to be a months-long investigation, Brooks said.
Jenner passed a field sobriety test and voluntarily submitted a blood sample to determine whether he was intoxicated, authorities said.
The sheriff’s department has custody of all the vehicles involved and will be inspecting them to ensure they are mechanically sound or whether a defect prevented somebody from stopping in time.
Information gleaned from the cellphone records could help inform prosecutors, if they were to consider charges against any of the drivers.
However, Brooks said it is difficult to determine if a driver was texting at the exact time of a collision. Investigators will look at signs of driver behavior such as multiple texts that span a period leading up to, or including, the crash, Brooks said.
The crash comes at a time of widespread talk that Jenner, 65, is becoming a woman. Though Jenner has declined to publicly comment, his appearance has gradually become more traditionally feminine. Those in his inner circles have not challenged speculation that he is preparing to live as a woman and perhaps will appear in a new reality series about his transition.
Jenner won a gold medal in the men’s decathlon at the 1976 Summer Games, but he is known to a younger generation as Kim Kardashian’s stepfather.
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