But photos of the car show that it was smashed from behind, and the driver, Angel Carromero, has said that he was run off the road by a car he believes was driven by government agents.
He and a Swedish associate in the front seat survived; Paya and a Cuban associate, both in the back seat, were killed.
Two months earlier Pay narrowly survived another suspicious crash.
Were agents so infuriated by that escape that they were determined to try again, no matter what the consequences? Was the operation intended just to bump and scare Paya?
Or did the agents welcome a chance to act with Europeans present - a sign to all Cubans that there is no protection, no matter who your friends may be?
For outsiders, such theorizing can be seductive. For people living under the regime's control, it is - and is intended to be - debilitating.
"I can speculate about the motive," Rosa Maria Paya said during a visit to The Post. "I can speculate about why now and not before or after. But I can also talk about what I know for sure."
Here are some things Paya and Wang said they know for sure.
Wang: "Any government that jails its own people for political dissent still has a long way to go to become a respected member of the international community."
Pay: "Dictatorships have no political color: not right or left, they are only dictatorships. Cubans are entitled to their rights, and this is more human than political."
Why did the Cuban government allow Paya to travel, when dissidents are frequently denied exit permits? Maybe officials hoped to lend credibility to their faux reform. Maybe they hoped she would stay in exile.
Paya said she doesn't know and isn't trying to figure it out. She intends to return to her Havana home next week, to continue the fight for democracy and for an honest accounting of her father's death.
Hiatt is The Washington Post's editorial page editor. His book "Nine Days," a novel for young adults inspired partly by Ti-Anna Wang's story, was published this week.