Jenner phone records, texts could be issue in crash probe
LOS ANGELES – Investigators will likely seek Bruce Jenner’s cellphone records to determine if the Olympic gold medalist was texting when he was behind the wheel of an SUV involved in a highway crash in Malibu that killed a woman, authorities said Sunday.
The agency will likely collect phone records for all the drivers involved in Saturday’s multi-vehicle accident, so investigators can check call and text data, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Philip Brooks said.
Investigators could also request search warrants, if necessary. The information gleaned from those records could help inform prosecutors, if they were to consider charges against the drivers involved.
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 of time leading up to, or including, the crash, Brooks said.
“The problem is pinpointing the time of the accident,” Brooks said. “If the accident occurred at 12:05 and 30 seconds, or 12:05 and 40 seconds, if you hung up before that, that’s useless information.”
The sheriff’s department has custody of all the vehicles and will be inspecting them to ensure they’re mechanically sound or whether a defect prevented somebody from stopping in time.
Investigators are trying to determine who or what triggered the crash on the Pacific Coast Highway. Five people were taken to the hospital as a precaution. None had visible injuries, Brooks said.
The celebrity gossip website TMZ first reported that the department could issue a search warrant to determine if Jenner was texting at the time of the accident.
Jenner was traveling north when his black Cadillac Escalade rear-ended a Lexus sedan that had just struck the back of a black Toyota Prius, Brooks said. The Lexus veered into oncoming traffic and collided head-on with a black Hummer.
The driver of the Lexus – Kim Howe 69, of Calabasas, California – was pronounced dead at the scene.
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, had a damaged front end.
There was no indication Jenner was being chased by paparazzi at the time of the crash, authorities said. “Being a celebrity, he is often followed by paparazzi. He was aware of that, and it doesn’t appear he took any evasive action to avoid the paparazzi,” Brooks said.
Authorities said Jenner cooperated with investigators, passed a field sobriety test and voluntarily submitted a blood sample to determine whether he was intoxicated, Brooks said.
Jenner’s publicist, Alan Nierob, said Jenner wasn’t hurt, but he offered no additional details. He did not return an email seeking comment Sunday.
The crash comes at a time of widespread talk that Jenner, 65, is becoming a woman. Though Jenner himself has declined public 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. He and Kris Jenner appeared on the reality series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” along with their children, and the pair’s relationship and its troubles have been featured prominently on the show. The two finalized their divorce late last year, ending 23 years of marriage.