LOS ANGELES — Golfing legend Tiger Woods was driving at a high rate of speed on Feb. 23, when he lost control of the SUV he was driving and wrecked in Los Angeles County, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Wednesday.
Woods was driving as fast as 87 mph on a curvy, downhill stretch of road where other accidents have frequently been reported, the sheriff said.
“The primary causal factor for this traffic collision was driving at a speed unsafe for the road conditions and the Inability to negotiate the curve of the roadway,” Villanueva said. “Estimated speeds at the first area of impact were 84 to 87 mph, and the final estimated speed when the vehicle struck the tree was 75 mph.”
Woods 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. On Wednesday, he thanked law enforcement and good Samaritans who came to his aid following the wreck.
“I will continue to focus on my recovery and family, and thank everyone for the overwhelming support and encouragement I’ve received during this very difficult time,” he said in a statement.
Authorities said Woods gave permission for deputies to share information on the cause of the crash, as such reports are typically kept private under California law.
The stretch of road where Woods crashed in February is known for wrecks and for drivers hitting speeds so high that there is an emergency exit for runaway vehicles just beyond where the 45-year-old crashed.
Capt. James Powers of the Lomita Sheriff’s Station said that on the morning of Feb. 23, deputies responding to reports of the crash found Woods dazed, but still wearing his seat belt, inside the SUV. The air bags had deployed during the rollover crash.
Authorities said they found no evidence to suggest that the 15-time major golf champion was distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the wreck. Detectives did not seek search warrants for Woods’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.
“There is no evidence of any impairment,” Powers said. “There was no odor of alcohol. There were no open containers in the vehicle and there were no narcotics or any evidence of medication in the vehicle or on his person.”
Officials believe Woods might have inadvertently confused the brake and acceleration pedals during the crash.
“It’s believed that when you panic, or you have some sort of a sudden interruption while you’re driving, your initial … thought is to hit the brake, and it’s believed that he may have done that, but hit the accelerator ... (instead of) the brake,” Powers said. “We don’t know that. He doesn’t have any recollection of the incident.”
No traffic citations were issued, officials said.
Woods was seriously injured on the morning of Feb. 23 when he lost control of the 2021 Genesis GV80 he was driving and wrecked in Los Angeles County. Sheriff’s deputies said Woods crossed a center median and hit a curb, causing the vehicle to roll over.
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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.