The Los Angeles County Sheriff on Wednesday characterized the crash that seriously injured Tiger Woods as “pure accident” and seemed to rule out any criminal charges even while authorities were still investigating.
Deputies saw no evidence that the golf star was reduced to drugs or alcohol after Tuesday’s wreck on a downhill known for crashes, said Sheriff Alex Villanueva.
“He was not drunk,” Villanueva said during a livestreamed social media event. “We can throw it out.”
Woods, who had checked into a clinic in 2017 for help with prescription medicine, was driving alone through the coastal suburbs of Los Angeles when his SUV hit a raised median, crossed to oncoming lanes and tipped several times. The crash caused “significant” damage to his right leg that required surgery, according to a post on the golfer’s Twitter account.
Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who first arrived at the crash, is patrolling the road, saying that he sometimes catches people peaking 80 km / h downhill, 45 km / h and that wrecks are common.
Justin King, a personal injury lawyer in California, said that if investigators show that the road is unsafe and have contributed to Woods crash and others, the municipality that controls it can be held responsible. The wreck occurred at the border between the communities of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes, and the county manager representing the area has requested a security review.
Meanwhile, Villanueva said investigators could seek search options for a blood test to definitively rule out drugs and alcohol. Detectives can also apply for search options for Wood’s cell phone to see if he’s driving distracted, as well as the vehicle’s event recorder, or “black box,” which would provide information on how fast he was driving.
Joe Giacalone, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and retired police officer in New York, said it was “too early” for Villanueva to determine that the crash was an accident just a day later.
“The blood test can give us a completely different insight,” Giacalone said, noting that some drugs may not be detectable by observation. “Because it’s Tiger Woods, people will demand answers. You must dot your selves and cross your T. ”
Crash investigations usually include interviews with first-time inspectors and spectators as well as road and vehicle inspections, including photographing and measuring the scene and checking to see if the vehicle had defects or faults, according to William Peppard, a retired Bergen County, New Jersey police detective who served as crash detector.
Peppard said that in typical cases without immediate indications that the driver was impaired, detectives may not seek blood tests if the crash does not injure anyone else or damage property.
“Take the celebrities out of it – it’s a matter of resources and time,” he said.
In 2017, Woods was arrested on a DUI charge when Florida police found him sleeping behind the wheel of his car parked uncomfortably on the side of the road, with the engine still running, two flat tires and a turn signal flashing.
Woods said he had an unexpected reaction to painkillers. Eventually, he pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving. Three weeks after his arrest, he went to a clinic to deal with prescription medication and sleep disorders.
The crash this week was the latest setback for Woods, who has at times looked unstoppable with his 15 major championships and record-breaking 82 wins on the PGA Tour. He is among the world’s most famous sports figures, and at 45, with a reduced schedule from nine previous operations, he is still golf’s biggest draw.
Injuries, however, have been a big part of his story from his epic victory at the US Open 2008 at Torrey Pines, where he won with shredded knee ligaments and two stress fractures in his left leg.
In 2009, his personal life imploded when he was caught with several extramarital affairs and crashed his vehicle into a fire hydrant and a tree. He went two years without winning.
After returning to No. 1 in the world in 2013, when he won five times and was the PGA Tour player of the year for the eleventh time, he had his first back operation in 2014. He played only 16 times over the next four years.
But he always did it back. Even after four back surgeries, he won the Masters in April 2019 for the fifth time, which is ranked among the major comebacks in the sport.
Woods had a fifth back operation, a microdiscectomy, on December 23, just three days after playing the PNC Championship with his son Charlie, now 12.
He was in Los Angeles this weekend as the tournament host for the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club. Monday and Tuesday had been set aside for him to give golf tips to celebrities on Discovery-owned GOLFTV.