A day after Lindsay Lohan was involved in a car crash in West Hollywood, California, police said they don't believe paparazzi were a factor in the accident.
Lohan's reps had said the actress was being pursued by photographers at the time of the incident, but authorities suspect the collision may have been a result of a van making an illegal U-turn in front of the actress' car.
"Photographers were not involved, not at all," Lieutenant Keith Swensson told the Los Angeles Times. The official cause of the wreck has not yet been determined. Lohan and a female passenger suffered minor injuries in the incident and were taken to a hospital, as was the driver of the van, who had moderate injuries (see "Lindsay Lohan Taken To Hospital After Car Accident").
The accident happened just a few blocks from the spot where Lohan's car was rammed by a paparazzo earlier this year, an incident that led to the photographer's arrest on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. In light of that and several other incidents involving stars and paparazzi, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a new state law that cracks down on photographers who commit assault while pursuing a subject (see "Schwarzenegger Cracks Down On Paparazzi With New Law "). The law goes into effect on January 1.
Though two paparazzi were shooting photos of a distressed Lohan and her seriously damaged car within seconds of the accident, Swensson said authorities are considering whether the driver of the van made an illegal U-turn. "The only person who is likely to be cited in this case is the van driver," said sheriff's department spokesperson Steve Whitmore. "Lindsay Lohan is an innocent victim in all of this."
Lohan's publicist, Leslie Sloane Zelnick, issued a statement Tuesday night calling the crash "another example of the paparazzi endangering citizens, both Ms. Lohan and the other driver involved in the collision," according to the Times.
Investigators downplayed a paparazzi connection, but witnesses said Lohan had been trailed by photographers earlier in the day while she ate lunch and shopped and was aware that she was being followed by a photographer in an SUV just moments before the crash.
According to the Times, the van involved in the accident was driven by Raymundo Ortega, an employee of the Newsroom Café, who was trying to pull into a parking space when he was struck by a fast-moving Lohan. The actress and her passenger ran into a nearby antiques store immediately after the wreck, while Ortega stumbled into the street and was helped by fellow Café employees.
Ortega told "Access Hollywood" that Lohan — who, he said, did not approach him to check on his condition — was not being pursued by any cars when the accident happened.
In August 2004, Lohan allegedly caused a head-on collision in Studio City. The occupants of that car sued the actress in February (see "Lindsay Lohan Sued For Traffic Accident ").