The Los Angeles County sheriff says detectives have determined what caused Woods to crash his SUV last month in Southern California but would not release details on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, citing privacy concerns for the golf star. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

The Los Angeles County sheriff says detectives have determined what caused Woods to crash his SUV last month in Southern California but would not release details on Wednesday, March 31, 2021, citing privacy concerns for the golf star. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

Detectives find cause of Tiger Woods crash but won’t reveal

‘There’s some privacy issues on releasing information on the investigation,’ says sheriff Alex Villanueva

The Los Angeles County sheriff says detectives have determined what caused Tiger Woods to crash his SUV last month in Southern California but would not release details Wednesday, citing unspecified privacy concerns for the golf star.

Woods suffered serious injuries in the Feb. 23 crash when he struck a raised median around 7 a.m. in Rolling Hills Estates, just outside Los Angeles. The Genesis SUV he was driving crossed through two oncoming lanes and uprooted a tree on a downhill stretch that police said is known for wrecks. Woods is in Florida recovering from multiple surgeries.

Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been criticized for his comments about the crash, calling it “purely an accident” and saying there was no evidence of impairment. Woods told deputies he did not know how the crash occurred and didn’t remember driving. He was unconscious when a witness first approached the mangled SUV. But a sheriff’s deputy said the athlete later appeared to be in shock but was conscious and able to answer basic questions.

Investigators did not seek a search warrant for Woods’ blood samples, which could be screened for drugs and alcohol. In 2017, Woods checked himself into a clinic for help in dealing with prescription drug medication after a DUI charge in his home state of Florida.

Detectives, however, did obtain a search warrant for the data recorder of the 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV, known as a black box. Villanueva would not say Wednesday what data had been found in the black box.

“A cause has been determined, the investigation has concluded,” Villanueva said during a live social media event Wednesday in response to a question posed by The Associated Press.

But Villanueva claimed investigators need permission from Woods — who previously named his yacht “Privacy” — to release information about the crash.

“We have reached out to Tiger Woods and his personnel,” Villanueva said. “There’s some privacy issues on releasing information on the investigation so we’re going to ask them if they waive the privacy and then we will be able to do a full release on all the information regarding the accident.”

Woods’ agent at Excel Sports, Mark Steinberg, did not immediately respond to an email.

“We have all the contents of the black box, we’ve got everything,” Villanueva said. “It’s completed, signed, sealed and delivered. However, we can’t release it without the permission of the people involved in the collision.”

Greg Risling, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles County district attorney, said in an email Wednesday that no felony or misdemeanour complaints against Woods had been filed through their office regarding the crash.

Villanueva’s statement about privacy issues did not make sense to Joseph Giacalone, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired New York City Police Department sergeant, who has criticized the sheriff’s response to the Woods incident from the start.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a department ever ask for permission like that,” he said. “What happens if his lawyers say ‘no, you can’t send it out now.’ And then where does that leave us?”

Giacalone said it’s unlikely that deputies would have sought the permission of non-celebrity victims in similar crashes to release information. If the sheriff’s hesitancy stemmed from a potential medical episode behind the wheel, Giacalone said authorities could simply say it was a medical emergency without giving additional details.

“I don’t think they would have asked any family member of us if they can come out with it,” he said.

Woods is from the Los Angeles area and was back home to host his PGA tournament, the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, which ended two days before the crash. He was driving an SUV loaned to him by the tournament.

Woods has never gone an entire year without playing, dating back to his first PGA Tour event as a 16-year-old in high school.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Regional District of North Okanagan is asking Vernon-based Tolko Industries to halt a planned cut block 500 metres above the Duteau Creek water intake, which provides 60 per cent of the Greater Vernon water supply April 22, 2021. (File photo)
Tolko urged to halt planned logging above Greater Vernon water supply

RDNO says planned cutblock above Duteau Creek could threaten 60 per cent of Vernon area water supply

An Ontario-based company has signed a contract with the CSRD to managethe Sicamous and District Rec Centre. (File Photo)
Ontario-based company gets management contract for Sicamous rec centre

CSRD approves contract with Nustadia Recreation

Thirteen demonstrators laid signs and demanded justice for lost sisters April 22, 2021, as Curits Wayne Sagmoen’s cop assault charge went before the court. (Jennifer Smith - Vernon Morning Star)
Sagmoen to stand trial in Vernon for cop assault

Trial is estimated to last five days, defence lawyer says

Salmon Arm Silverbacks forward Simon Tassy (11) tries to set a screen in front of West Kelowna goalie Johnny Derrick with Warriors defenceman Skyler Cameron trying to prevent it. Tassy scored twice in the Silverbacks’ 5-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play win Wednesday, April 21, at Vernon’s Kal Tire Place. (Tami Quan Photography)
Salmon Arm Silverbacks slip past West Kelowna

Simon Tassy scores twice as Gorillas dump Warriors 5-2 in B.C. Hockey League pod play in Vernon

Weekly COVID-19 data for April 11 to 17, 2021 on new cases reported in North Okanagan-Shuswap health areas show Vernon, Armstrong and Revelstoke going down, Salmon Arm holding steady and Enderby with small increase. (British Columbia Centre for Disease Control image)
Just one North Okanagan-Shuswap health area sees rise in new COVID-19 cases

Latest weekly data available shows Enderby with small increase, Salmon Arm holding steady

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

Wife and husband duo Alexis Esseltine and Timothy Scoon n took over Penticton’s Tin Whistle Brewing in October, 2020 and are making their mark on the iconic brew-spot by announcing a new look and an environmental focus. (Contributed)
South Okanagan’s original brewery goes eco-friendly under new ownership

Tin Whistle Brewing is now one of the first certified carbon neutral breweries in B.C.

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP arrested a suspected impaired driver who took an unauthorized short cut to a Coldstream roadway. (File photo)
Impaired driver on slippery slope with Vernon RCMP

Person caught leaving locked Coldstream parking lot by taking unauthorized shortcut to roadway

A police officer stands by a kayak that overturned on Mission Creek in Kelowna on Thursday, April 22. (Aaron Hemens/Capital News)
Kayakers flip in Kelowna’s Mission Creek, lose two boats

Two overturned kayaks were spotted floating down the waterway on Thursday, kayaker says everybody made it out safely

Are you considering any ambitious home renovation projects? The Okanagan Regional Library can help. (Black Press file photo)
COLUMN: Redecorate your home with help from the library

Plenty of resources in place for home decoration projects

Peyton Slind enjoys the fruits of his labour. Photo submitted
B.C. youngster builds hammock out of 900 plastic bags

“I’m going to enjoy it until it splits in half.”

(Photo: pixabay.com)
Near miss between small plane and drone above downtown Kelowna

The drone came within 200 feet of colliding with the small aircraft

Most Read