Tiger Woods mistakenly thought he was in the state of Florida when he was interviewed by a sheriff’s deputy at a Los Angeles area hospital after he crashed his vehicle in February, according to a 22-page collision report that reveals several new details about the collision sequence and aftermath.
Among the revelations in the report:
The legendary golfer’s blood pressure also was “too low to administer any type of pain medication” shortly after the crash.
An empty pharmaceutical bottle was found in a backpack at the scene of the crash with no label or indication of what was inside it.
According to data from the vehicle’s black-box recorder, Woods also was going in a straight line with no steering input detected until some slight steering movement registered late in the recorded crash sequence.
“Had (Woods) applied his brakes to reduce his speed or steered to correct the direction of travel, he would not have collided with the center median and the collision would not have occurred,” said the report on the data prepared by Sergeant Michael Downing.
The 22-page report was obtained by USA TODAY Sports after the sheriff’s department announced Wednesday that the cause of the Woods crash was “driving at a speed unsafe for the road conditions and the inability to negotiate the curve of the roadway."
The conclusion to the data report raises the question of whether Woods tried to negotiate the curve at all as he was traveling at more than 82 mph in a 45-mph zone.
Instead of staying with his lane as it curved right, Woods went straight into the median shortly after 7 a.m. local time on Feb. 23. He struck a curb, mowed down a wooden sign and drove into opposing lanes before hitting a tree and rolling over in Rolling Hills Estates south of downtown Los Angeles. He suffered broken bones in his right leg that could jeopardize his golf career.
After hitting the median, he traveled a distance of several hundred feet with no evidence of braking. Woods instead suddenly applied the gas pedal at 99% in the final seconds before hitting the raised median that separates the north and south lanes of the road, according the report. Woods also told investigators he does not remember driving.
Jonathan Cherney, a former police detective in Southern California, reviewed the crash scene Feb. 24 and said it was "like a classic case of falling asleep behind the wheel, because the road curves and his vehicle goes straight."
The collision report boosts that notion, said Cherney, who was not involved in the sheriff's investigation but now works as a forensic crash reconstruction expert.
“The data here supports that he was not conscious,” Cherney said Wednesday. "I’m seeing the brakes off the entire time. I don’t see any steering at all (until late in the recorded crash sequence). That’s not indicative of emergency steering at all. This is not consistent with somebody who’s awake behind the wheel.”
A report by another officer, Justin Smith, said “there was no reason to believe (Woods) had been operating a motor vehicle while impaired by alcohol/drugs.” Smith based this on interviews with other officers and video footage, but did not evaluate Woods himself on the day of the crash. Smith interviewed a paramedic who described Woods’ pupils as “slightly sluggish,” but the paramedic attributed the sluggish pupils to the trauma Woods had sustained from the collision.
A sheriff’s captain said Woods’ low blood pressure “was consistent with shock as a result of collision and the injuries (Woods) sustained.” The same captain said Woods was "somewhat combative" when they were trying to treat him on the scene of the crash. This also was determined to be consistent with the trauma Woods sustained.
Deputy Kyle Sullivan reported he interviewed Woods at the hospital after the crash that day while an injury to Woods’ face was being stitched.
“I then asked (Woods) if he is able to tell me about what happened regarding the traffic collision,” Sullivan wrote. Woods “told me he did not remember being involved in a traffic collision. (Woods) thought he was currently in the state of Florida.”
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Woods would not be issued a citation because there were no independent witnesses and no peace officers who observed the collision sequence.
This is Woods' third driving incident since 2009, when he was cited for careless driving after crashing into a fire hydrant and tree outside his home in Florida. A witness then said Woods was unconscious at the scene, according to a police report.
In 2017, police found Woods asleep at the wheel in Florida and arrested him for drunk driving. A toxicology report later revealed he had several medications in his system then, including the sleep medication Ambien, the painkiller Vicodin and THC. He checked into a clinic that year to get help with medications dealing with pain and sleep. He pleaded guilty to reckless driving.
After this latest crash, the sheriff's department did not try to examine Woods' blood for evidence of medication because there wasn't a strong-enough reason for it, according to Villanueva and one of his deputies.