The LA Sheriff calls the Tiger Woods crash “an accident,” Oklahoma Information
LOS ANGELES (AP) – The Los Angeles County Sheriff described the crash that seriously injured Tiger Woods on Wednesday as a “pure accident” and appeared to rule out possible criminal charges even while authorities were still investigating.
MPs saw no evidence that the golf star was compromised by drugs or alcohol on an accidental departure after the wreck on Tuesday, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said.
“He wasn’t drunk,” Villanueva said during a livestream social media event. “We can throw that out.”
Woods, who checked into a clinic in 2017 for help handling prescription drugs, was driving alone through the suburbs on the Los Angeles coast when his SUV hit an elevated median, crossed into oncoming lanes, and made multiple turns. The crash caused “significant” injuries to his right leg and he underwent “lengthy surgery,” according to a post on the golfer’s Twitter account.
Villanueva said investigators could obtain search warrants for a blood sample to definitively rule out drugs and alcohol. Detectives could also request search warrants on Woods’ cell phone to see if he is driving distracted, as well as the incident recorder or the vehicle’s “black box” which will tell how fast he is driving.
Joe Giacalone, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and retired New York police sergeant, said it was “premature” for Villanueva to discover just a day later that the crash was an accident.
“The blood test could give us a very different insight,” said Giacalone, noting that some drugs are not necessarily detectable by observation. “Because it’s Tiger Woods, people will be demanding answers. You have to dot your I and cross your T.”
Crash investigations typically involve interviewing first responders and bystanders, as well as road and vehicle inspections, including photographing and surveying the scene and checking for any defects or malfunctions in the vehicle, according to William Peppard, a retired Bergen County, New Jersey , Policeman who served as a crash investigator.
Peppard said in typical cases with no immediate evidence that the driver was impaired, detectives could not seek blood samples if the accident did not injure anyone or damage property.
“Take the celebrity out – it’s a matter of resources and time,” he said.
Woods was arrested on a DUI charge in 2017 when Florida police slept him at the wheel of his roadside car with the engine still running, two flat tires and a blinking turn signal.
Woods said he had an unexpected reaction to pain medication he was taking. He eventually pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving. Three weeks after the arrest, he went to a clinic for help dealing with prescription drugs and a sleep disorder.
This week’s fall was the latest setback for Woods, who at times seemed unstoppable with 15 major championships and 82 wins on the PGA Tour. He is one of the most famous sports figures in the world and at 45 years of age and a reduced schedule of nine previous operations remains the largest draw in golf.
Injuries, however, were a huge part of his narrative, which dates back to his epic win at the 2008 US Open in Torrey Pines, where he won with torn knee ligaments and two stress fractures in his left leg.
In 2009, his personal life collapsed when he was caught engaged in several extramarital affairs and his vehicle crashed into a fire hydrant and a tree. He went two years without winning.
After returning to # 1 in the world in 2013 when he won five times and was PGA Tour Player of the Year for the eleventh time, he had his first back surgery in 2014. He only played 16 times over the next four years.
But he always made it back. Even after four back operations, he won the Masters for the fifth time in April 2019, which is one of the great comebacks in sport.
Woods had a fifth back operation, a microdiscectomy, on December 23, just three days after playing the PNC championship with his 12-year-old son Charlie.
He was in Los Angeles over the weekend as the tournament organizer of the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club. Monday and Tuesday had been reserved for him to give celebrities golf tips on Discovery’s own GOLFTV.
Woods was driving his Genesis Invitational courtesy vehicle when he crashed. First crash deputy Carlos Gonzalez patrols the street saying that he sometimes catches people going over 129 km / h in the downhill zone and that accidents are common.
Ferguson reported from Orlando, Florida.
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