Tiger Woods was speeding before crashing SUV, sheriff says
Star golfer was driving 84 to 87 miles per hour in 45 mph zone
Authorities say Tiger Woods was speeding when he crashed an SUV in Southern California less than two months ago, leaving him seriously injured.
The golf superstar was driving 84 to 87 miles per hour (135 to 140 km/h) on a downhill stretch of road outside Los Angeles that had a speed limit of 45 mph (72 km/h), Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Wednesday.
The stretch of road is known for wrecks and drivers hitting speeds so high that there is an emergency exit for runaway vehicles just beyond where Woods crashed.
Villanueva blamed the Feb. 23 crash solely on excessive speed and Woods's loss of control behind the wheel. The athlete will not face any citations for his third high-profile collision in 11 years.
On Twitter, Woods thanked the people who called 911, as well as the first responders who pulled him out of the wreck and transported him to the hospital.
"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 wrote in the statement posted after the news conference.
WATCH | Tiger Woods injured in car crash:
Detectives did not seek search warrants for the athlete's blood samples, which could have been screened for drugs or alcohol. However, investigators did search the SUV's data recorder, known as a black box, in the days after the crash.
Capt. James Powers, who oversees the sheriff's station closest to the crash site, said there was no evidence that the golfer tried to brake and that investigators think Woods inadvertently stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal. He was wearing a seat belt at the time, and the SUV's airbags deployed.
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 struck median, crossed 2 traffic lanes
Originally from the Los Angeles area, Woods had been back home in February to host his PGA tournament, the Genesis Invitational, at Riviera Country Club.
He was driving an SUV loaned to him by the tournament through Rolling Hills Estates, just outside Los Angeles, when he struck a raised median. The SUV crossed through two oncoming lanes and uprooted a tree.
Villanueva had previously said detectives had determined the cause of the crash, but he would not release it, citing privacy concerns and a purported need for Woods' permission to divulge information.
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.
The athlete is now in Florida recovering from multiple surgeries, including a lengthy procedure for shattered tibia and fibula bones in his lower right leg in multiple locations. Those were stabilized with a rod in his tibia. Additional injuries to the bones in his foot and ankle required screws and pins.
Woods, 45, has never gone an entire year without playing, dating back to his first PGA Tour event as a 16-year-old. He had hoped to play this year in the Masters tournament, which begins Thursday.
Rory McIlroy, a four-time major golf champion who lives near Woods in Florida, said he visited him on March 21.
"Spent a couple hours with him, which was nice. It was good to see him," McIlroy said Tuesday from the Masters.
"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."
3rd vehicle-related investigation involving Woods
In the weeks after the crash, the sheriff called it "purely an accident" and said there was no evidence of impairment. Villanueva faced criticism for labelling the crash an accident before the investigation had concluded.
This is the third time Woods has been involved in a vehicle investigation.
The most notorious example was when his SUV ran over a fire hydrant and hit a tree early 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 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.