Feb. 23 (UPI) — Golf legend Tiger Woods was involved in a serious car crash Tuesday morning in California that resulted in significant injuries to both of his legs, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.
“He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said officers were called to the scene of a “single vehicle roll-over traffic collision” at 7:12 a.m. Tuesday on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes.
Police arrived at about 7:18 a.m. and found Woods’ courtesy vehicle, a 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV, rolled on its side. Officials said Woods was conscious when rescuers arrived, and he was placed into a medical collar for stabilization.
Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby said Woods was trapped in the vehicle and sustained serious injuries to both legs. Osby noted that the star golfer, who was the driver and sole occupant of the car, was extricated through the windshield using a prying tool and an axe, not the “jaws of life” that was initially reported.
Woods then was transported in serious condition to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center for leg surgery, Osby said.
Carlos Gonzalez, the Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy who first arrived at the scene of the accident, said Woods was unable to stand on his own, but the golfer was “lucid and calm” following the crash.
Police launched a traffic investigation into the incident. Villanueva said there was “no evidence of impairment” noted by deputies responding to the crash.
Los Angeles officials believe Woods’ SUV was traveling at a high rate of speed as it was traveling on a steep downhill slope known for being the site of vehicle crashes. Villanueva said the interior of Woods’ car acted as a cushion and likely saved the 15-time major champion’s life.
“The interior, the cabinet of the vehicle was more or less intact,” he said. “The front end was totally destroyed. The bumpers, everything, totally destroyed. Airbags deployed, all of that. However, thankfully the interior was more or less intact, which kind of gave him the cushion to survive what otherwise would have been a fatal crash.”
Villanueva also said Woods was wearing a seat belt.
Police said Woods’ vehicle crossed the center divider and rolled over several times before resting in the brush. Officials said there is no indication Woods made an attempt to slow his SUV prior to the crash.
“No skid marks, no braking,” Villanueva said. “… The first contact was with the center median, from there then crossed into the opposing lane of traffic, hit the curb, hit a tree, and there were several rollovers during that process.”
Another vehicle, which had stopped and pulled over on the side of the road to help Woods shortly after the accident, was struck by another car coming over the slope, officials said. There were no major injuries from that second traffic incident.
Woods, who was rehabbing from a Dec. 23 back procedure, was in the area for the Genesis Invitational. The 45-year-old Woods hosts the PGA Tour event, which is run by his foundation, at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades.
Former Miami Heat star guard Dwyane Wade posted photos Monday on Instagram that showed him golfing alongside Woods at Rolling Hills Country Club, which is near the site of the crash. Woods appeared Sunday on CBS during the final round of the Genesis Invitational.
Woods hasn’t participated in a PGA Tour event in more than three months due to his injured back. His recent back surgery was his fifth, with the golfer saying he isn’t sure when he can return to play. He previously hoped to enter the Masters Tournament from April 8-11 in Augusta, Ga.
Fellow golfer Justin Thomas spoke about the incident when he met with reporters Tuesday.
“I’m sick to my stomach. It hurts to see one of my closest friends get into an accident,” Thomas said. “I just hope he’s alright. I just worry for his kids. I’m sure they are struggling.”
Woods has two children, daughter Sam,13, and son Charlie, 12.
Woods previously pleaded guilty to reckless driving in 2017 after he was arrested and charged with DUI. Police found him asleep at the wheel of his car during that incident, which occurred in Jupiter, Fla.
Woods said that incident was the result of an “unexpected reaction to prescribed medications” and that alcohol was not involved.
Woods was cited for careless driving in 2009 when he crashed his car into a tree and a fire hydrant outside of his Windermere, Fla., home.
Moments from Tiger Wood’s career
Tiger Woods swings during the second round of the U.S. Open in Bethesda, Md., on June 13, 1997. The following April, Woods became the youngest Masters Tournament winner. Photo by Jay Clark/UPI | License Photo