Driving in 45-mph zone, Woods left roadway and was accelerating before crashing, resulting in serious injury, investigation concludes
Tiger Woods was traveling at 84-87 mph in a 45-mph zone and still accelerating before impact in the single-vehicle rollover crash Feb. 23 that left the golfer seriously injured near Los Angeles, according to a report Wednesday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva, citing data obtained from the “black box” recorder of the luxury loaner Genesis SUV that Woods was driving, said that authorities don’t know whether Woods was conscious when he lost control of the vehicle in suburban Rolling Hills Estates. Woods underwent at least two rounds of surgery to repair his broken right leg, ankle and foot. No one else was hurt in the crash, and no other vehicles were involved. There was no evidence that Woods tried to brake as he veered into a median and across two lanes of oncoming traffic. Investigators think he might have inadvertently stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal in a panic, sheriff’s Capt. James Powers, who oversees the sheriff’s station closest to the crash site, told The Associated Press.
Woods was wearing a seat belt, and investigators said that he told first responders that he had consumed no medication or alcohol before the crash. Investigators did not pursue search warrants for his blood sample, which could have been tested for alcohol and drugs, or his cellphone, citing no probable cause. The data recorder disclosed the speed of the vehicle.
Woods since has returned to his home in Jupiter, Fla., where he is recovering. Woods, a five-time Masters winner, did not appear in Augusta, Ga., on Tuesday for the Champions Dinner.
Villanueva said that Woods will not be cited in the incident and that law-enforcement authorities received permission from the golfer to release details of the investigation. Woods was in the Los Angeles area, where he grew up, to serve as tournament host at the Genesis Invitational, which benefits his foundation.
Jonathan Cherney, an accident-reconstruction expert and retired police detective from Irvine, Calif., told the AP that the sheriff failed to explain a fundamental part of the case: Why was Woods driving so fast?
“To just blanket it with an unsafe speed violation is the easy way out,” said Cherney, who walked the crash site. “We still are missing the key factors that kind of explain why or how this whole sequence of events began.”
Cherney said investigators had enough probable cause to seek Woods' blood sample.
Woods, 45, has not competed since he tied for 38th in the Masters on Nov. 15. He remains tied with the late Sam Snead for the PGA Tour’s all-time victories’ record, with 82. Woods’ 15 major championships ranks second to Jack Nicklaus’ 18.
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