In the aftermath of Tiger Woods’ car crash that happened in February in South California, the official investigation was concluded, and a definitive cause of the accident is determined.
But the plot twist comes from a fact that the Los Angeles County sheriff declined to release details surrounding the cause of the accident due to unspecified privacy concerns.
The famous golfer suffered a serious knee injury in his car accident on February 23rd, when his car struck a median in Rolling Hills Estates, early in the morning, causing his SUV to cross two lanes and struck a tree, before tumbling downhill.
The accident happened on Hawthorne Boulevard at Blackhorse Road in Los Angeles, one of the most dangerous accident spots in Los Angeles, a steep and curvy section with a speed limit of 45 mph.
Currently, Woods is back in Florida and recovering from multiple leg and knee injuries for which he required several surgeries.
During the preliminary investigation, Sheriff Alex Villanueva commented that the accident was ”purely an accident” and was not a case of impairment. For this statement, he was heavily criticized because Woods himself allegedly told the deputies he didn’t remember driving or how the crash occurred.
In most cases, when the victim says they don’t remember the accident, the law enforcement officers bring a drug-recognition expert (DRE) who would determine if there is cause to ask for a blood to be examined. In Woods’ accident, the DRE was not called.
Charles Shack, a former New Hampshire state police trooper and now an accident reconstruction expert was surprised because of the lack of DRE on the case .“I would have thought that you would have him evaluated by a DRE to see whether or not there are some physical clues beyond the operation that would point to impairment.
To an untrained person, sometimes the effects are a bit more subtle, and require a bit more in-depth examination to bring out the evidence of impairment ‘’ he said.
According to a witness, Woods was unconscious when they first approached the SUV, but the sheriff’s deputy said the athlete was conscious, speaking clearly, but appeared to be in shock.
Because of the way the preliminary investigation was conducted, there was no warrant for Woods’ blood samples or any request for the golfer to be scanned for drugs and alcohol. Detectives only obtained a search warrant for the black box of the 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV.
The data recovered from the black box uncovered the cause of the accident, but Villanueva said they are not able to do a full release until they have the approval of Tiger Woods and his personnel.
“We have reached out to Tiger Woods and his personnel,” Villanueva stated, “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.”
He also stated that they cannot release the data results ”without the permission of the people involved in the collision.” Later on, on his Twitter account, the sheriff’s department further explained that the release of such reports falls under California’s vehicle code.
Therein lies the problem. The section of California’s vehicle code mentioned by the sheriff’s department does not include ”accident reports”. And although these informations are confidential, it can be disclosed ”to any person who may have a proper interest therein.”
The decision not to release a statement before getting permission from Tiger Woods and his personnel baffled Joseph Giacalone, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a retired New York City Police Department sergeant.
He was baffled by the way the sheriff’s department was treating this accident and pointed out the flaw in asking for release permission. “What happens if his lawyers say ‘no, you can’t send it out now.’ And then where does that leave us?” he said, also wondering if the deputies would ask for permission from the non-celebrity victims in similar crashes.
Giacalone believes that, if Woods suffered a medical episode behind the wheel, authorities could have simply released a statement saying the crash was caused by a medical emergency.
Following a DUI charge in Florida, in 2017 the golfer checked himself into a facility that helps to deal with prescription drug medication. Facts like these are what make the absence of official release suspicious.
So far, no felony or misdemeanor complaints have been filed against Woods through the district attorney’s office related to the crash. Moreover, according to some car accident attorneys in California, the two cities responsible for the road where Tiger Woods crashed and was injured could be liable for the accident as the road was missing proper signalisation alerting the drivers to the dangerous slope ahead.