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Former NBA Player and Wife Killed in High-Speed Crash in Studio City, Los Angeles County

Posted on February 1, 2018

Studio City Los Angeles Car Accident

Photo Credit: KTLA

Ex-NBA Los Angeles Clippers and Miami Heat player Rasual Butler and his wife were killed in a single-vehicle high-speed crash in Studio City early Wednesday morning, Jan. 31st. According to a Los Angeles Police Department’s spokesperson, Butler and his wife were driving in a newer model Range Rover SUV traveling westbound on Ventura Boulevard when Butler lost control of the SUV. The Range Rover jumped the curb in an area of Ventura Boulevard that turns into a sharp curve. The Range rover then struck several parking meters before colliding with a wall, overturning and ending up in a parking lot of a Marshall’s shopping plaza in the 11200 block of Ventura. LAPD North Hollywood Division received calls about the single-vehicle collision around 2:35 a.m. and quickly dispatched an officer to respond. Emergency crews found 38-year old Rasual Butler and his 31-year old wife, Leah LaBelle Vladowski, dead at the scene. The fatal collision prompted a complete closure of Ventura Boulevard between Vineland Avenue and Tujunga Avenue.

Butler, a forward, played for several NBA teams during his lengthy professional basketball career of 13 seasons, including the Indiana Pacers and the Washington Wizards. He last played during the 2015-2016 season with the San Antonio Spurs. The NBA released a statement saying it was “devastated” by Butler’s death. “A pro’s pro, Rasual enjoyed a long, successful career and was widely respected by his peers and coaches,” the NBA said. Leah LaBelle Vladowski was a Canadian-born singer best known as an R&B singer and a finalist in Season 3 of “American Idol” in 2004.

According to Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Andy Neiman, there is a sharp and gradual curve on Ventura Boulevard where the collision occurred. The posted speed limit changes from 35 to 30 mph along that stretch of road. Based on the damage of the Range Rover, it appeared the SUV was speeding at a high rate of speed than the posted limits. Capt. Neiman estimates Butler may have been traveling at least 60 mph or as high as 90 mph. Based on the witness account that no other vehicles were with Butler at the time of the collision, investigators do not believe the SUV was involved in an illegal street race, he added. Capt. Neiman said it is too early to determine if drugs or alcohol played a factor in the fatal collision and that the results of the investigation are pending until a toxicology report is compiled from an autopsy.

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