Deadly crash involving Bruce Jenner: questions and answers

AP News
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Posted: Feb 09, 2015 8:48 PM
Deadly crash involving Bruce Jenner: questions and answers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sheriff's officials on Monday dug deeper into a weekend chain-reaction crash on Malibu's Pacific Coast Highway that involved Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner and left one woman dead.

The wreck was documented in paparazzi photos that were posted online by celebrity gossip website TMZ.

It has garnered significant attention, along with a slew of speculation. Here's a look at what happened and some questions that have cropped up so far:

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WHAT WERE THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE CRASH?

A woman driving a Toyota Prius stopped or slowed on the highway and was hit by a woman driving a Lexus.

Bruce Jenner, driving a black Cadillac Escalade with a trailer carrying an off-road vehicle, saw the crash and swerved right to try to avoid it. He hit the Lexus, causing it to veer into oncoming traffic, and it 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.

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WHAT IS BEING INVESTIGATED?

Los Angeles County sheriff's investigators are trying to determine why the Prius stopped or slowed.

Traffic doesn't tend to build up on the Pacific Coast Highway in February, and the driver was 150 yards from the next traffic light.

Her statements to investigators were "unclear," Sgt. Philip Brooks said.

Another big question is why the Lexus veered into oncoming traffic when it was hit by Jenner's Cadillac.

Usually all three cars stay in line in such an accident. But in this case the Lexus crossed a 12-foot center lane to make its way into the Hummer's path, Brooks said.

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DID THEY ALL TAKE SOBRIETY TESTS?

Deputies who responded to the collision spoke to each driver and asked only Jenner to take a field sobriety test.

He passed without problems and voluntarily submitted a blood sample. Those results won't be known for some time, Brooks said.

It's unclear why deputies decided to test only Jenner, but typically they do not ask someone to submit to such tests unless there is a question about their sobriety, Brooks said.

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WHY CELLPHONE RECORDS?

Sheriff's investigators were contacting Jenner and the other drivers Monday to ask for access to their cellphone records.

Investigators routinely request such records in fatal multivehicle collisions to determine if distracted driving was a factor.

However, it's difficult for investigators to pinpoint the timing of a crash to the moment of a message or phone call.

Sheriff's deputies were at the scene for hours Saturday taking measurements to painstakingly reconstruct the collision.

Investigators will re-interview the drivers, use the skid marks left by Jenner's trailer to determine the speed of impact, and analyze the debris field and physics of the wreck. They'll also look at photos or videos taken by bystanders, including paparazzi.

It will be months before investigators are able to conclude whether anything criminal occurred. "Sometimes it's just an accident, and that's all there is to it," Brooks said.

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WHAT DOES CALIFORNIA LAW SAY ABOUT TEXTING AND DRIVING?

Drivers in California must use hands-free equipment while talking on their cellphones and are prohibited from texting while driving.

However, a court ruling last year said drivers can use a cellphone's GPS or map while driving without a hands-free device. The ruling has muddled law enforcement's ability to enforce texting and driving laws, Brooks said.

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WHAT DOES JENNER SAY?

Jenner has called the accident a "devastating tragedy" and vowed to cooperate with investigators. He also released a statement extending sympathies to the victim's family and "all of those who were involved or injured in this terrible accident."

Jenner's publicist Alan Nierob has said the Olympian wasn't texting when the crash happened and that he'll provide cellphone records if asked by investigators.

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WERE THE PAPARAZZI CHASING JENNER? DID THAT CAUSE THE CRASH?

Jenner told deputies he was being followed by the paparazzi, but investigators quickly determined he was not trying to evade them and they didn't cause the crash, Brooks said.

Paparazzi often surround Jenner, and he's used to them following him.

Jenner won a gold medal in the men's decathlon at the 1976 Summer Games, but he's known to a younger generation as Kim Kardashian's stepfather.

He and Kris Jenner appeared on the reality series "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," along with their children. The two finalized their divorce late last year, ending 23 years of marriage.

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WHY HAS JENNER BEEN IN THE NEWS LATELY?

The crash comes amid widespread talk that Jenner, 65, is becoming a woman. Though Jenner himself 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.

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Tami Abdollah can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/latams .