Excessive speed was the primary cause of a violent crash in the Palos Verdes area that left golfer Tiger Woods with severe injuries in February, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said during a news conference Wednesday.
Woods’ SUV was traveling between 84 and 87 mph — nearly twice the posted speed limit — when it struck a raised median, Villanueva said.
The vehicle was still traveling at about 75 mph as it then careened into a nearby tree in the area of Hawthorne Boulevard and Blackhorse Road.
Sheriff’s Capt. James Powers said there was no evidence that the golfer braked throughout the wreck and that it’s believed Woods inadvertently hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal.
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.
The 45-year-old was left with multiple broken bones in his leg following the crash. Screws and pins had to be used for some of Woods’ ankle and foot injuries, doctors said following the lengthy surgery at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
There was no evidence of impairment or intoxication, an official said during Wednesday’s news conference. The finding is consistent with what officials stated at an earlier point in the investigation, in which Villanueva described the crash as “purely an accident.”
Villanueva faced criticism at that time for labeling the crash an accident before the investigation had concluded.
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.
Detectives also did not seek search warrants for the athlete’s blood samples, which could have been screened for drugs or alcohol, or his cellphone. Sheriff’s officials said Woods told deputies that he had not ingested medication or alcohol before the crash.
Authorities said because there was no evidence of impairment or of distracted driving, they didn’t have probable cause to get those warrants.
Investigators, however, did search the SUV’s data recorder, known as a black box but no citations were issued in connection with the crash.
Woods issued a statement after learning the crash investigation had been completed.
Woods had been in the Los Angeles area to host the Genesis Invitational tournament at Riviera Country Club.
Last week, the Sheriff’s Department indicated it would not be sharing details of the investigation out of unspecific concerns for Woods’ privacy. The department incorrectly interpreted and cited a section of state law to explain its decision, which came under scrutiny.
“We have all the contents of the black box. We’ve got everything,” Villanueva said last week. “It’s completed, signed, sealed and delivered. However, we can’t release it without the permission of the people involved in the collision.”
Villanueva said Wednesday that Woods gave permission for authorities to reveal details about the crash.
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.