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Officials have confirmed that former Los Angeles Clippers player Rasual Butler and his wife were killed in a solo-vehicle, high-speed crash in Studio City early Wednesday morning.
The couple was aboard a newer model Range Rover when it crashed in the 11200 block of Ventura Boulevard about 2:25 a.m. The SUV was traveling westbound on Ventura Boulevard when the vehicle lost control then hit multiple parking meters before slamming into a wall, overturned and ended up in a parking lot.
The Range Rover was a complete wreck and mangled after the crash in the parking lot of a strip mall containing a Marshall’s, a Michaels and other stores.
Los Angeles Police responded to the scene of the incident but Captain Andy Neiman said both the occupants of the SUV were pronounced dead at the scene.
Neiman said there is a sharp or gradual curve near the crash site, and the posted speed limit goes anywhere from 35 to 30 mph in that stretch. From the damage of the vehicle, Neiman said it appeared that the vehicle was going “well in excess “of the posted speed limit, and gave estimates that it was traveling at least 60 mph and as high as 90 mph.
The LA County coroner’s office identified the former LA Clipper athlete but did not release the name of the woman Butler was with at the time of the crash. The Clippers later identified the woman in the statement they released following the crash as Leah LaBelle.
The sports squad also said in their statement: “The L.A. Clippers are deeply saddened by the loss of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. Rasual will long be remembered not only for his accomplishments on the court, but for his vibrant personality, positive outlook and the compassion he had for everyone around him.”
Butler enjoyed a long NBA career. He was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2002, played for several NBA teams including the Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards, and San Antonio Spurs. He last played in the NBA in 2016.
It is not yet clear who between Butler and LaBelle was behind the wheel.
A witness said Butler’s vehicle was driving at a high rate of speed but told police that no other cars appeared on the road at the time. Based on the witness account, investigators do not believe the SUV was involved in an illegal street race.
Neiman also said that it is still too early to tell whether drugs or alcohol were a factor that affected the crash. He said, though, that speed or overspeeding in this case, was definitely a factor that led to the unfortunate and avoidable tragedy.