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On the eve of the Masters, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department has released the cause of the February wreck where Tiger Woods suffered extensive injury: excessive speed of 82-87 mph in a 45-mph zone.
Early in the morning of Feb. 24, Woods was driving in the Rancho Palos Verdes area of Los Angeles, en route to a golf course where he was filming a segment for a television show, when his SUV left the road and flipped before coming to rest on its side.
Woods hit accelerator at '99%'
In a news conference Wednesday, law enforcement said that data recordings from the car show that Woods did not brake prior to the accident but did press on the accelerator at a "99 percent" rate. Lomita Captain James Powers said investigators believe Woods accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake. The final estimated speed when Woods' vehicle struck a tree was 75 mph.
Woods was taken to a nearby hospital with severe injuries to his right leg; he returned home to Florida several weeks later. (Here's a complete update of all that's known about Woods' condition since the wreck.)
Woods has little to no memory of the accident, and suffered several blows to the head during the wreck. Deputies on the scene said there was no evidence of Woods being under the influence of drugs or alcohol. L.A. Powers reiterated that finding Wednesday, saying no evidence of alcohol or narcotics were found in the vehicle.
The L.A. County Sheriff's Department did not seek a search warrant for Woods' blood samples or cell phone records, saying there was no probable cause for a criminal investigation. The department did obtain a search warrant for the data recorder of the 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV. However, the department did not forward any criminal charges to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
No citation issued
When asked why Woods has not been issued a citation, Powers explained that in cases where there are no eye witnesses or observation by police, there is no evidence to support writing a citation.
"You can do it, but it would be kind of, I don't want to say a waste of time, but a lot of the courts would dismiss it because it wasn't observed by a police officer," Power said.
L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva added, "The decision not to issue a citation would be the exact same thing for anyone in this room for anyone who went through this same situation — a solo traffic collision. There's no witness. It's an infraction only, and we're not going to issue a citation on an infraction not committed in a peace officer's presence or an independent witness, period. That would apply to everybody."
When asked if the data recorder would provide evidence to issue a citation, Villanueva said, "Data recorder, that tells us physically what happened but we need a human being to witness it."
The sheriff's department had determined the cause of the wreck last week, but held off on releasing it publicly until consulting with Woods' team, a move that drew charges of special treatment.
Villanueva said allegations of preferential treatment are unfounded.
"For the record, under Sec. 20012 of the California vehicle code, the details of this report would remain confidential except for the involved parties," Villanueva said. "This is true of the thousands of reports like this type we prepare every year throughout LA County. And No one’s asking for those reports. And so this is treated no differently."
Woods has not been seen publicly since the accident, but has been in regular communication with several of his fellow players, and has tweeted out occasional updates and messages to his fans. "I’ll miss running up @DJohnsonPGA’s bill at the Champions Dinner tonight," Woods tweeted on Tuesday. "It’s still one of my favorite nights of the year."
The full extent of Woods' injuries, to say nothing of his return to the golf course, remains unknown.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter at @jaybusbee or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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