Tiger Woods may have fallen asleep at wheel, experts suggest
Tiger Woods appeared to have failed to pay attention in the moments leading up to his devastating accident – and may have fallen asleep behind the wheel of the luxury SUV he was driving, according to a report quoting forensic car accident experts.
The 45-year-old left-wing legend was driving a 2021 Genesis GV80 alone as it drove across the Median on Hawthorne Boulevard in Rancho Palos Verdes, pulled off the road, and hit a tree – causing the car to roll over.
Woods broke several bones in his right lower leg, suggesting he pulled the brakes on at the time of the impact, experts told USA Today, adding that the evidence suggests he braked late in the collision sequence.
“To me, this is like a classic case of falling asleep behind the wheel because the road curves and his vehicle goes straight,” Jonathan Cherney, an advisor who acts as an expert witness in legal proceedings, told the news agency.
Tiger Woods’ overturned car can be seen after the accident that rocked the sports world on February 23, 2021.PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP via Getty Images
The former police officer personally examined the crash site.
“It’s drifting off the road, almost like he’s either passed out, has a medical episode, or fell asleep and didn’t wake up until he got off the road, and that’s where the brake application came in,” Cherney told US Today.
Tiger Woods broke several bones in his right lower leg in his car accident on February 23, 2021.Brian Rothmuller / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
LA County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said there were no skid marks to indicate braking – but the vehicle had anti-lock brakes. Even if Woods stepped on the brakes, “you wouldn’t necessarily see tire marks,” Felix Lee, an accident reconstruction expert, said the outlet.
Lee said an important clue was that the SUV hadn’t changed direction in the turn.
“I feel like speed wasn’t such a big problem. It was just some kind of inattention that caused the roadside strike, “said Lee, who is part of the Expert Institute, a network that provides legal experts.
Workers move a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods on Tuesday, February 23, 2021 in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA.Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag
Cherney also said he saw no evidence of “steering input” that would indicate the golfer was trying to avoid the accident.
Rami Hashish, director of the National Biomechanics Institute investigating accidents, told USA Today that this indicates a “very delayed response.”
“It indicated that he was not paying attention at all,” said the expert, adding that he suspected that the damage would have been much greater if Woods had been driving at an excessive speed.
The speed limit on this route is 45 miles per hour.
“You can walk 45 to 50 miles an hour with a broken leg,” Hashish said. “When you hit 60, 65 and a stationary object, your chance of death increases exponentially.”
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s MPs are collecting evidence from the car that Tiger Woods was driving at the time of the accident on February 23, 2021.David McNew / Getty Images
If he accelerated at 80 mph, “he wouldn’t have an open fracture in that leg – he would be dead,” he said.
The sheriff said investigators did not yet know the speed of the vehicle but said it could have been both a factor and inattention.
“This track is challenging and if you aren’t careful you can see what happens,” Villanueva said on Wednesday, adding that the accident was “just an accident” in a preliminary assessment.
There is no evidence of impairment or medication, he added.
The experts were surprised, however, that Villanueva had determined that it was an accident without examining the SUV’s “black box” computer, which could reveal steering, braking or acceleration measures prior to the impact.
“There’s no real accident unless it’s a real medical emergency,” Cherney said. “There is always a certain amount of negligence, whether it’s simple negligence like looking down at your phone or changing the radio station that starts the entire collision sequence.
“If the sheriff says this is just an accident, I don’t know how on earth can you tell this early in the game without doing a thorough thorough investigation and reconstruction analysis,” he added.
In 2017, police found Woods asleep at the wheel in Florida. A toxicological report said he had Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax, Ambien – which is used to treat insomnia – and THC in his system at the time.
Cherney also asked whether the SUV was actually run over “multiple times,” as Villanueva has indicated.
“I consider a flip as a full turn, not just falling on your side,” said Cherney. “I don’t think the vehicle has made as many revolutions or complete rolls as it depicts.”
In his first comments after the crash, Woods said on Sunday, “It’s hard to explain how touching it was today when I turned on the TV and saw all the red shirts,” referring to his colleagues wearing his signature Sunday red shirt outfit and Black wore pants during the final round of the WCG Workday Championship.
“For every golfer and every fan, you really help me through this difficult time.”