AFP/ Los Angeles
Tiger Woods was driving at an “unsafe” speed nearly double the 45mph limit when he crashed in California in February, Los Angeles County’s sheriff said yesterday. Woods’s SUV was travelling at up to 87 miles (140 kilometres) an hour before it flew off the road and flipped several times during the accident in Ranchos Palos Verdes, leaving the 15-time major champion with a shattered right leg.
“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,” said Alex Villanueva. “Estimated speeds at the first area of impact were 84 to 87 miles per hour.”
There were “no signs of impairment,” or evidence of any “distracted driving,” and Woods voluntarily allowed the results of the investigation to be made public, officials said. Woods, 45, may have inadvertently hit the gas instead of the brakes upon losing control, Captain James Powers said, although Woods himself does not recall the incident.
Both officials said the golfer had not been given any special treatment, and that he was not cited for speeding because there were no witnesses or police present at the time. Woods will not face criminal charges.
The crash would have been investigated further “if there was a significant injury or fatality” and had involved another person, said Powers. Investigators did not check Woods phone or test his bloodwork because there was “no evidence of any impairment or intoxication,” Powers told a press conference.
The serious leg injuries sustained by Woods have raised fears for the future of his astonishing career. The star, whose 82 US PGA titles are level with Sam Snead for the all-time win record, won the 2019 Masters for his first major title in 11 years to complete an astonishing comeback after multiple back surgeries.
Following the crash on February 23, he underwent hours of surgery to repair his shattered lower right leg and ankle, which included the insertion of a rod into his shinbone and screws and pins to stabilise the joint. He is recovering at his home in Florida and will not compete in this year’s Masters, which begins today.
Woods was in the Los Angeles area for his annual Genesis Invitational golf tournament at the Riviera Country Club, and was driving a courtesy car on the morning of the crash. Powers dismissed claims Woods had been observed driving erratically earlier that morning, telling reporters that video surveillance footage showed the golfer travelling at normal, safe speeds at the beginning of his journey.
Sheriff Villanueva described the stretch of road as “hazardous,” with multiple people approaching it with way too much speed for the conditions” due to the road’s design. The district supervisor was planning to introduce traffic control measures to reduce speeds, he said.
Woods has previously been involved in infamous driving incidents. In November 2009, he smashed his car into a tree and a fire hydrant outside his luxury Florida home, sparking a series of scandalous revelations that doomed his marriage and put his game in freefall.
In May 2017, he was arrested near his home for being asleep at the wheel of his car in a traffic lane.
Woods said he had taken prescription drugs and pleaded guilty to reckless driving.
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