What to Know
- Tiger Woods' Feb. 23 SUV crash was caused by unsafe speeds and a failure to negotiate a curving section of road on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the sheriff says.
- The SUV was traveling at 84 to 87 mph before it struck a median and about 75 mph when it slammed into a tree, sheriff's investigators say.
- Detectives relied on information from a data recorder in the 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV, known as a black box. The box records events such as steering, throttle and braking inputs.
Tiger Woods was traveling at speeds exceeding 80 mph, well above the posted speed limit, on a sweeping stretch of Southern California road before a rollover crash in February that left the golfer with serious injuries, sheriff's investigators said Wednesday.
The primary cause of the crash is considered to be driving at speeds unsafe for the roadway and a failure to negotiate the curving Palos Verdes Peninsula road, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
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Woods' loaned Gensis SUV with a suite of modern safety features was traveling at 75 mph when he struck a tree in the February rollover crash, the sheriff said Wednesday. The SUV's event data recorder indicated it was traveling at an estimated 84 to 87 mph prior to the crash in a 45 mph zone along a sweeping downhill stretch of road, first striking a median before rolling, shearing off part of the tree and coming to a rest on an embankment.
There was no evidence of braking. Investigators said Woods might have inadvertently pressed hard on the gas pedal instead of applying the brake.
The stretch of road is well-known for wrecks and drivers who frequently reach high speeds. Due to the steepness of the roadway, a runaway truck escape lane is located just beyond where Woods crashed.
The sheriff's department said no citations will be issued because there were no independent witnesses to the crash to warrant a citation. There was no evidence of impairment, authorities said.
"We need a human being to witness it,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Wednesday.
Last Wednesday, Villanueva announced the investigation into the Rancho Palos Verdes crash had been completed, but that details were being withheld due to privacy issues.
"A cause has been determined, the investigation has concluded,'' Villanueva said last week. "However, we have reached out to Tiger Woods and his personnel. There's some privacy issues on releasing information on the investigation, and we're going to ask them if they waive the privacy. Then we'll be able to do a full release on all the information regarding the accident.''
Woods issued a statement Wednesday in which he thanked first responders who helped him at the scene.
"I will continue to focus on my recovery and family and thank everyone for the overwhelming support and encouragement I've received throughout this very difficult time," Woods said.
Woods suffered serious injuries in the crash when he struck a raised median around 7 a.m. in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside Los Angeles. The Genesis SUV he was driving crossed through two oncoming lanes and uprooted a tree on a downhill stretch that police said is known for wrecks. Woods is in Florida recovering from multiple surgeries.
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.
He was unconscious when a witness first approached the mangled SUV. A sheriff’s deputy said the athlete later appeared to be in shock but was conscious and able to answer basic questions.
Villanueva has commented previously about the crash, calling it “purely an accident” and saying there was no evidence of impairment. Woods told deputies he did not know how the crash occurred and didn’t remember driving.
Investigators did not seek a search warrant for Woods’ blood samples, which could be screened for drugs and alcohol. In 2017, Woods checked himself into a clinic for help in dealing with prescription drug medication after a DUI charge in his home state of Florida.
Detectives, however, did obtain a search warrant for the data recorder of the 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV, known as a black box. The box records data such as steering, throttle and braking inputs.
Villanueva claimed investigators need permission from Woods — who previously named his yacht “Privacy” — to make public information about the crash. He said Wednesday that the Woods team had cooperated with that request.
“We have reached out to Tiger Woods and his personnel,” Villanueva said. “There’s some privacy issues on releasing information on the investigation so we’re going to ask them if they waive the privacy and then we will be able to do a full release on all the information regarding the accident.
“We have all the contents of the black box, we’ve got everything. It’s completed, signed, sealed and delivered. However, we can’t release it without the permission of the people involved in the collision.”
Hours after the social media event last week, the sheriff’s department posted a message on Twitter saying that the release of such reports falls under California’s vehicle code.
“When we are able, we intend to release the information learned during the traffic collision investigation” that involved Woods, the tweet stated.
The section of state code cited by the sheriff’s department does not govern the release of the information outside the so-called “accident reports.” It says those reports must be confidential but can be disclosed “to any person who may have a proper interest therein.”
Greg Risling, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County district attorney, said in an email last week that no felony or misdemeanor complaints against Woods had been filed through the district attorney’s office regarding the crash.
Woods is from the Los Angeles area and was home to host his PGA tournament, the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, which ended two days before the crash. He was driving an SUV loaned to him by the tournament.
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.