Tiger Woods was “not drunk” at the wheel and the crash that seriously injured him was “purely an accident”, according to the Los Angeles County sheriff.
The 45-year-old golf star suffered serious leg injuries when his car hit a kerb and then a tree before rolling several times on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning.
No other cars were involved.
Police have found no evidence that the golf champ was impaired by drugs or alcohol following Tuesday’s accident on a downhill stretch of road known for crashes, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
“He was not drunk, we can throw that one out,” the sheriff said during a livestreamed social media event, appearing to rule out any potential criminal charges despite the ongoing investigation.
But he said investigators may seek warrants for a blood sample to definitively rule out alcohol and drugs.
Detectives could also apply for warrants for the golfer’s phone to see if he was driving distracted, as well as the vehicle’s event data recorder or “black box”, which would give information about how fast he was going.
Woods, who had checked into a clinic in 2017 for help dealing with prescription medication, was driving alone before his car crossed into oncoming lanes and flipped several times.
The crash caused “significant” injuries to his right leg that required surgery, according to a post on the golfer’s Twitter account.
Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was first to arrive at the scene, patrols the road and said he sometimes catches people exceeding 80mph in the downhill 45mph zone, and that crashes there were common.
Asked if Woods was aware of his injuries, the officer said: “He didn’t mention anything. I don’t think he was aware of how gravely he was injured at the time.
“It could be a mixture of adrenaline. It could have been shock.”
Joe Giacalone, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired New York police sergeant, said it was “premature” for Sheriff Villanueva to determine the crash was an accident just a day later.
“The blood test could give us a whole other insight,” he said, noting some drugs were not necessarily detectable by observation.
“Because it’s Tiger Woods, people are going to demand answers. You have to dot your I’s and cross your T’s.”
Woods, a 15-time major champion, was cut free from the vehicle and rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center where he underwent significant surgery and is recovering from his injuries.
A statement from his TGR foundation said he is “currently awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room”.
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