The woman in a white Lexus, killed in a Malibu traffic crash involving TV celebrity Bruce Jenner and possibly paparazzi, has been identified as Kim Howe, 69, of Calabasas.
The sheriff’s office released the name at midday, after tabloid reports revealed her name as disclosed by neighbors. The coroner’s office would only officially say the victim was 69, a female, and that family notifications were continuing.
Traffic was flowing normally today at the crash scene, in front of a campground at Latigo Beach. Sheriff’s deputies began to collect cellphone records to determine why a tabloid freelance photographer was at the point of impact at the grinding crash on Pacific Coast Highway Saturday.
Howe was killed, and five children and one adult were injured, in a crash being investigated as possibly paparazzi-related.
Jenner was being tailed by freelance photographers as his Cadillac Escalade smashed into the Lexus, which hit a car that had slowed or stopped for what deputies called “unclear” reasons before being pushed by the Escalade into the path of an ongoing Hummer H2.
Jenner issued a statement today, saying he was praying for the deceased victim’s family and would continue to cooperate fully with the crash investigation.
“My heartfelt and deepest sympathies go out to the family and loves ones, and to all of those who were involved or injured in this terrible accident,” he said in a statement released by his publicist Alan Nierob. “It’s is a devastating tragedy and I cannot pretend to imagine what this family is going through at this time. I am praying for them. I will continue to cooperate in every way possible.”
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 CNS. “In a case like this, we’ll ask or get a warrant to examine his cellphone records.”
According to a report today by TMZ, a new photo taken by an independent photo agency just before the crash shows Jenner holding a cigarette, not a phone.
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 Jenner as he headed that way.
“Mr. Jenner is constantly followed by paparazzi, he was aware of paparazzi following him,” Brooks told a CNS reporter in Malibu. “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,’ ” Brooks said. “As you know, on PCH it’s a straight highway; you can’t elude anyone.”
In the Saturday pileup, 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, either before or when it was hit hard by the Escalade driven by Jenner, the 1976 Olympic decathlon gold medalist and reality television star.
“You have a car that was essentially sandwiched by the two heaviest cars possible on the road,” Brooks said.
Jenner, a star of the “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” reality TV show, was unhurt, Nierob said.
Jenner recently made headlines 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” about why she was blocking traffic, Brooks told CNS.
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 at a restaurant next to the crash scene. He was arrested on 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.