Tiger Woods will not face reckless driving charges in the rollover accident in which the renowned golfer totaled an SUV he was driving down a dangerously steep road in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., on Tuesday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters on Wednesday that the department has ruled the single-vehicle crash an accident although a traffic investigation is ongoing.
A reckless driving charge is a misdemeanor crime “that has a lot of elements to it,” Villanueva said during an online press conference.
“This is purely an accident,” he said, adding that at most Woods could receive a citation “but those are just infractions.”
Woods, who was alone in a 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV, careened across the median divider of a steep downhill highway, past opposing traffic lanes, slammed into a tree then hurtled approximately 30 yards into an embankment while rolling over several times.
The 45-year-old sustained a compound fracture to one leg and a shattered ankle as well as some other injuries. Rescuers had to pry the windshield open to remove Woods from the vehicle and he was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center.
Woods is responsive and recovering from a “long surgical procedure” on his lower right leg and ankle, according to a statement posted on his Twitter on Wednesday.
Surgeons inserted a rod into Woods’ tibia and a combination of screws and pins were used to stabilize his ankle.
“We thank everyone for the overwhelming support and messages during this tough time,” the statement said.
Villanueva ruled out any possibility of Woods being impaired or intoxicated at the time of the crash, saying, he was lucid at the time the first deputy arrived at the scene.
There was “no odor of alcohol, no evidence of any medication, narcotics or anything like that would bring that into question,” Villanueva said, adding that there was no need for a field sobriety test and it was unnecessary to call a drug recognition expert to conduct an assessment of Woods’ condition.
The sheriff noted the department has not yet pulled data from the black box of the SUV, saying he hopes it’ll contain information about the speed at which Woods was driving at the time. The posted speed limit where the accident occurred is 45 mph.
Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who responded to the crash, on Tuesday confirmed that Woods was wearing his seat belt, which “greatly increased” his chances of surviving.
Villanueva also expects investigators will look into Woods’ cell phone records to determine if he was using the device at the time of the accident. But, he added, that requires a search warrant.
Another factor that could have contributed to the incident, according to the sheriff, is that Woods may have been distracted while driving down the steep and curving road, noting that it’s a dangerous stretch of the highway where it is common for drivers to lose control.
“In fact, from January of last year to Tiger Woods’ incident, there have been a total of 13 accidents,” Villanueva remarked.