LOS ANGELES – Tiger Woods was driving nearly 90 mph – twice the posted speed limit – on a downhill stretch of road when he lost control of an SUV and crashed in a wreck that seriously injured the golf superstar, authorities said Wednesday.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva blamed the Feb. 23 crash outside Los Angeles solely on excessive speed and Woods' loss of control behind the wheel. The athlete will not face any citations for his third high-profile collision in 11 years.
“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,” the sheriff told a news conference.
Woods was driving 84 to 87 mph in an area with a speed limit of 45 mph, Villanueva said.
The stretch of road is known for wrecks and drivers who frequently hit high speeds. Due to the steepness of the terrain, a runaway truck escape lane is available just beyond where Woods crashed.
There was no evidence that the golfer tried to brake, and investigators believe Woods may have inadvertently stepped on the accelerator instead of the brake pedal in a panic, said sheriff's Capt. James Powers, who oversees the sheriff's station closest to the crash site.
Woods was wearing a seat belt at the time, and the vehicle's airbags deployed. He told deputies that he had not taken medication or consumed alcohol before the crash, sheriff's officials said.
“Those questions were asked and answered,” Powers said.
Detectives did not seek search warrants for blood samples, which could have been screened for drugs or alcohol, or his cellphone. Authorities said there was no evidence of impairment or of distracted driving, so they did not have probable cause to get warrants. Investigators did search the SUV's data recorder, known as a black box, which revealed the vehicle's speed.
On Twitter, Woods thanked the people who called 911, as well as the first responders who pulled him out of the wreck and transported him to the hospital.
“I will continue to focus on my recovery and family, and thank everyone for the overwhelming support and encouragement I've received throughout this very difficult time,” Woods wrote in a statement.
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 had been back home to host his PGA tournament, the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, when the crash happened.
He was driving an SUV loaned to him by the tournament when he struck a raised median in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside Los Angeles. The SUV crossed through two oncoming lanes and uprooted a tree, striking it at 75 mph.