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, officials said.
The couple were in a newer model Range Rover when it crashed in the 11200 block of Ventura Boulevard about 2:25 a.m. The SUV was speeding on westbound lanes of Ventura Boulevard when the vehicle drove off the road and jumped a curb, hit three parking meters, plowed into a concrete wall and flipped over twice before ending up in a parking lot.
Video from the scene showed the mangled wreckage of the SUV in the parking lot of an outdoor shopping mall containing a Marshall’s, a Michaels and other stores.
Both occupants were pronounced dead at the scene, Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Andy Neiman said.
The L.A. County coroner’s office identified Butler, but did not immediately release the name of the woman killed in the crash. She was later identified as Leah LaBelle by the Clippers, which released a statement in the wake of Butler’s death.
LaBelle, 31, was a Canadian-born singer who competed on “American Idol.”
“The L.A. Clippers are deeply saddened by the loss of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle,” the statement read. “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.”
The husband and wife resided in Studio City, according to LAPD.
A small but growing memorial of flowers, candles and balloons dedicated to the couple could be seen on the sidewalk near the shopping mall by Wednesday night.
Selena Davis, a friend of Butler’s, was among those who came by to pay their respects. She remembered him as a “very kind-hearted” individual.
“The most amazing and sweet, warm person. He touched a lot of lives,” Davis said.
Butler, who was drafted by the Miami Heat in 2002, played for several NBA teams during his lengthy professional basketball career, including the Indiana Pacers, Washington Wizards and San Antonio Spurs. He last played in the league in 2016.
It was unclear if Butler was behind the wheel at the time of the crash.
Neiman told KTLA there is a sharp or gradual curve near the crash site, and the posted speed limit goes from 35 to 30 mph in that stretch. Based on the damage of the vehicle, he said it appeared the SUV was going “well in excess” of the posted speed limit –estimating it was traveling at least 60 mph and as high as 90 mph.
A witness observed the vehicle driving at a high rate of speed, but told police that no other cars appeared to on the road at the time, according to Neiman. Based on the witness account, investigators do not believe the SUV was involved in an illegal street race, he added.
The incident is under investigation, and it is too early to tell whether drugs or alcohol were a factor, according to Neiman.
“It appears to be a tragic case of a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, unsafe for that condition,” he said. “Speed is something all of us have control over. This is an incident that didn’t have to happen.”
We are deeply saddened by the passing of Rasual Butler and his wife, Leah LaBelle. Our sincere condolences, thoughts and prayers go out to the family and many friends of Rasual and Leah. They will be missed. pic.twitter.com/djezmpHd5h
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) January 31, 2018
KTLA’s Alexandria Hernandez and Steve Bien contributed to this story.