Tiger Woods’ February crash was caused by excessive speed, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.
Woods’ SUV was traveling from 84 to 87 mph on a downhill stretch of road outside Los Angeles that had a speed limit of 45 mph. The SUV was going 75 mph when it hit a tree, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
No traffic citations were issued.
Authorities said there was no evidence of impairment or of distracted driving, so they didn’t have probable cause to get those warrants. Investigators, however, did search the SUV’s data recorder, known as a black box.
Villanueva blamed the Feb. 23 crash solely on excessive speed and Woods’ loss of control behind the wheel. Sheriff’s Capt. James Powers, who oversees the sheriff’s station closest to the crash site, said there was no evidence that the golfer braked throughout the wreck and that it’s believed Woods inadvertently hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal.
“The primary causal factor for this traffic collision was driving at a speed unsafe for the road conditions and the inability to negotiate the curve of the roadway,” the sheriff told a news conference.
Detectives did not seek search warrants for the athlete’s blood samples, which could have been screened for drugs or alcohol, or his cellphone. Sheriff’s officials said Woods told deputies that he had not ingested medication or alcohol before the crash.
“Those questions were asked and answered,” Powers said.
Woods tweeted a statement after the news conference thanking those who helped him immediately following his crash and those who have supported him since since the accident. He said he is continuing “to focus on my recovery and family.”
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) April 7, 2021
Villanueva said Woods and his representatives have been cooperative during the investigation and gave permission to share the findings.
Woods, who is from the Los Angeles area, had been back home to host his PGA tournament, the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, when the crash happened.
He was driving a 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV lent to him by the tournament when he struck a raised median in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside Los Angeles. The SUV crossed through two oncoming lanes and uprooted a tree on a downhill stretch that police said is known for wrecks.
Documents show that Woods told deputies he did not know how the crash occurred and did not remember driving. At the time of the wreck, Woods was recovering from a fifth back surgery, which took place two months earlier.
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Woods is in Florida recovering from multiple surgeries stemming from serious leg injuries he suffered in the accident. Woods has never gone an entire year without playing, dating back to his first PGA Tour event as a 16-year-old in high school.
Rory McIlroy, a four-time major golf champion who lives near Woods, said he visited him on March 21.
“Spent a couple hours with him, which was nice. It was good to see him,” McIlroy said at the Masters on Tuesday. “It was good to see him in decent spirits. When you hear of these things and you look at the car and you see the crash, you think he’s going to be in a hospital bed for six months. But he was actually doing better than that.”
Villanueva faced criticism for weeks for his comments about the crash, including calling it “purely an accident” and saying there was no evidence of impairment and pushed back Wednesday against allegations of special treatment for the golf star.
“That is absolutely false,” he said.
Villanueva also declined to release footage from deputies’ body cameras, citing Woods’ privacy.
This is the third time Woods has been involved in a vehicular incident investigation.
The most notorious example was when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree early on the morning after Thanksgiving in 2009. That crash was the start of shocking revelations that he had been cheating on his wife with multiple women. Woods lost major corporate sponsorships, went to a rehabilitation clinic in Mississippi and did not return to golf for five months.
In May 2017, Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of a car parked awkwardly on the side of the road. He was arrested on a DUI charge and said later that he had an unexpected reaction to prescription medicine for his back pain. Woods pleaded guilty to reckless driving and checked into a clinic to get help with prescription medication and a sleep disorder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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