Tiger Woods crash report revealed: Speeding at 87mph – and he did not apply brakes

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Tom Morgan
·6 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Extensive damage to Tiger Woods' SUV - AP
Extensive damage to Tiger Woods' SUV - AP

Tiger Woods was speeding at up to 87mph in a 45mph zone when he accelerated out of control to cause his death-defying car crash back in February, US police have confirmed.

The LA County Sheriff's Department says the sole reason for the crash was excessive speed, with Woods accidentally hitting the accelerator rather than braking before the vehicle flipped over.

Despite unanswered questions around the South California crash, officers declined to charge him and said there was "no need" to issue warrants for his phone records or blood tests over the crash.

In a press conference, officers found no evidence that Woods, who suffered multiple leg injuries and underwent surgery after being pulled from his 2021 Genesis SUV, was under the influence of any drugs. The 15-time major winner suffered multiple fractures and lacerations on both legs and had to be rushed to the operating theatre.

With LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva closing the case, only Woods can now explain why he sped up and failed to brake during the incident on Feb 23.

However, in a press conference, Villanueva said Woods had been "very co-operative" in giving officers the green light to publish the report.

"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," he said. Estimated speed "at the first area of impact was 84 to 87mph".

Woods' wrecked car had crossed into the opposite lane, hit a kerb and then collided with a tree before rolling down a verge on the border of Rolling Hills estates and Rancho Palos Verdes. Woods, who was wearing a seat belt, underwent a long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle, before being moved to another hospital for follow-up procedures. He returned home to Florida to continue his recovery on March 15.

There was extensive damage to Tiger Woods' SUV - AFP
There was extensive damage to Tiger Woods' SUV - AFP

Officers cited the sole cause of the crash as speed after Woods, who will not be charged, waived his right of privacy and authorised the release of an accident report.

According to police conclusions, the SUV's black box reportedly shows Woods accelerated at the time of the crash after he lost control. No warrant was issued to check Woods' mobile phone to determine if he was on a call or texting.

There was no evidence he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, although authorities never tried to get a warrant to draw blood. Officers say they did not have the necessary probable cause, and no charges will be filed.

The 45 year-old was pried from the wreckage by rescue crews and rushed by ambulance, with rods and screws later inserted into his shin and ankle.

Villanueva said last month that a cause was determined and the investigation had concluded.

Fellow golfer Rory McIlroy said this week that he had visited Woods and described him as in "decent spirits". Fellow pros were in tears when told the initial news and then there was huge relief when it was revealed by the LA Sheriff Department that the injuries were “non-life-threatening”. However, there remain obvious concerns that this could be the end for Woods the golfer, who has bestrode his sport like no other.

In a statement released after the press conference, Woods thanked the first responders who helped to free him from the wreckage, along with the two members of the public who called authorities to alert them of the accident.

“In the last few days, I received word from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department that their investigation regarding my traffic accident back on February 23rd in Los Angeles has been completed and closed," he said.

“I am so grateful to both of the good samaritans who came to assist me and called 911. I am also thankful to the LASD Deputies and LA Firefighter/Paramedics, especially LA Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez and LAFD Engine Co. #106 Fire Paramedics Smith and Gimenez, for helping me so expertly at the scene and getting me safely 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.”

The accident happened at 7.12am when rescue services were called to Ranchos Palos Verdes, a district south of the Californian city. No other cars were believed to have been involved.

Woods car crash report: what we know

Woods’ car reached speeds of 84 to 87mph (135-140kph) when he lost control. Sheriff Villanueva revealed that the “estimated speed when the vehicle struck the tree was 75mph”, but he added that, “there were were no citations issued and there were no signs of impairment.”

Despite his excess speed, officers say they are unable to charge him as there are no witnesses to the incident. A reckless driving charge would require multiple allegations to be levelled against him. The car’s so-called “black box” data recorder showed that Woods never applied the brakes during the incident, but instead engaged the accelerator accidentally.

LA police 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".

The five key revelations:

  • Woods hit speeds in the first area of impact of "84 to 87mph" and "the final estimated speed" when his vehicle struck a tree was 75mph. He had 99 per cent throttle pressure and 0 per cent brake pressure at the time of the crash.

  • No evidence of "intoxication", though sobriety tests were deemed inappropriate at the scene. Steering movement suggests he was not asleep shortly before crash. "There were no citations issued and there are no signs of impairment," Villanueva said. "I know there are some things that somehow he received special or preferential treatment - that is absolutely false"

  • Woods may have accidentally hit the accelerator rather than brake - but he has no recollection of the collision. "It is speculated and believed that Tiger Woods inadvertently hit the accelerator instead of the brake pedal, causing that 99 per cent rating on the accelerator pedal," said Capt. James Powers said.

  • Police saw no reason to order checks on his mobile phone to see whether he was texting. "We did not check his phone for texting, and there was really no need to do that," said Capt Powers. "There's two factors - there's the speed and failing to maintain the straight course and the curvature of the roadway."

  • There was no evidence of Woods, who will not be charged, being in any angry or distressed state when he set off on the journey. "I know that there were allegations of an incident that occurred prior to the collusion," Capt Powers said. "I reviewed video footage... and there's no evidence of any increased speed or rushed behaviour."

The unanswered questions:

  • Why was Woods driving at twice the speed limit? Police have no explanation for this - he set out on his journey at a normal speed.

  • Did he have alcohol in his system? Officers say there is no evidence of intoxication but they did not obtain a warrant for blood tests so cannot say conclusively.

  • Was Woods nodding off at the wheel? He was actively steering shortly before, but it is possible he was in a tired state, officers said, after a busy night the previous day.

  • Was he texting? With no "probable cause" to launch a criminal inquiry, police admitted they had not checked mobile phone data. Woods has no memory of the incident.