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Saturday April 10th, 2021 4:09PM

Los Angeles sheriff to reveal cause of Tiger Woods crash

By The Associated Press
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities planned to announce Wednesday what caused Tiger Woods to crash an SUV in February in Southern California, a wreck that seriously injured the golf superstar.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva 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.

The sheriff planned to discuss the findings of the investigation, including “causal factors,” during a news conference Wednesday morning in Los Angeles, the sheriff's department said in a statement.

It was not immediately clear whether Woods had any involvement in the expected announcement.

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.

Woods, who is originally 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 on Feb. 23.

He was driving an SUV loaned 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.

That part of the roadway — where the speed limit is 45 mph (72 kilometers per hour) — is known for drivers hitting high speeds, sometimes unintentionally. An emergency exit is available for runaway vehicles just beyond where Woods crashed.

The athlete is 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 in high school. 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.”

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 labeling the crash an accident before the investigation had concluded.

Detectives searched the data recorder of the 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV, known as a black box. Investigators did not seek a search warrant, however, for Woods’ blood samples, which could be screened for drugs and alcohol.

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 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 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.

___

Associated Press Golf Writer Doug Ferguson contributed from Augusta, Georgia.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Golf, AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Sports - PGA
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