Tiger Woods’s accident in February was caused by excessive speed and failure to negotiate a curve due to possible confusion between the accelerator and brake pedals, the Los Angeles County sheriff said at a Wednesday press conference.
“The primary cause or factor for this traffic collision was driving at a speed unsafe for the road conditions and inability to negotiate the curve of the roadway,” Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
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Villanueva said the Genesis SUV that Woods was driving, which was loaned to him by the sponsors of a golf tournament he had attended, was travelling an estimated 84 to 87 mph (135 to 140 km/h) on a stretch of road that has a speed limit of 45 mph (72 km/h), and there were no signs of impairment for Woods.
Sheriff’s Captain 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.
Detectives did not seek search warrants for the athlete’s blood samples, which could have been screened for drugs or alcohol, or his mobile phone. Sheriff’s officials said Woods told deputies that he had not ingested medication or alcohol before the crash.
Woods, 45, sustained severe leg injuries after the SUV struck a raised median, crossed through two oncoming lanes and uprooted a tree before rolling over in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside of Los Angeles.
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 golfer will not face any citations or charges for the crash on February 23.
Villanueva said Woods and his representatives have been cooperative during the investigation and permitted the release of the findings. Villanueva initially cited privacy concerns for not releasing the findings earlier.
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 Professional Golfers’ Association of America (PGA) tournament, the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, when the crash happened.
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 stabilised with a rod in his tibia. Additional injuries to the bones in his foot and ankle required screws and pins.
Woods has never gone an entire year without golfing, 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.
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 in 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 driving under the influence (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.