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

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
54 more cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Thirty-two people in the region are in hospital with the virus, 11 of them in intensive care

Dr. Katherine Oldfield is a naturopathic physician, mother, and active member of the Nelson-West Kootenay chapter of Citizens’ Climate Lobby. Photo: Submitted
COLUMN: Restore our Earth, restore our health

Katherine Oldfield writes about the priorities we need to have ahead of Earth Day

Air Canada will not be resuming flight to Castlegar anytime soon. Photo: Betsy Kline
Service to West Kootenay Regional Airport not included in Air Canada deal announcement

Air Canada will not be resuming flights to Castlegar at this time

While pharmacies across B.C. are using AstraZeneca for public immunizations for people 40 years of age and older, there is no availability currently in the Kootenays. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
No AstraZeneca vaccine availability in Kootenay pharmacies, says Interior Health

Vaccine has been opened up at pharmacies in other areas of the province to people 40 years of age and older

Idle Eyes, Tad Campbell (middle). Photo: Idle Eyes Facebook page
Idle Eyes frontman, Trail native, sentenced to house arrest

Campbell avoided jail time at the Feb. 5 sentencing in the Vancouver courthouse.

Four homes in Johnson Flats were at serious risk of falling into a neighbourhood section of the Kettle River, according to capital project manager Justin Dinsdale. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Grand Forks shields riverside homes against erosion

Crews have built a modified dike along a section of the Kettle River in Johnson Flats

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Police road checks are coming for people travelling between regions while COVID-19 travel restrictions are in place. (Black Press file photo)
B.C. clarifies COVID-19 travel restrictions, Lower Mainland a single zone

Vehicle checks on highways, at ferry terminals to start Friday

Canadian driver Paul Tracy pulls out of the pits during the morning session at the Molson Indy in Vancouver, B.C., Saturday, July 26, 2003 (CP/Richard Lam)
Vancouver is considering hosting a Formula E race using electric cars

The race would be part of a three-day event focused on climate and sustainability

Most Read