When news broke that Tiger Woods had been involved in a single-vehicle accident in Rancho Palos Verdes, Los Angeles County, on February 23, you knew that speculation would be rife.
Given Tiger’s well-documented struggles with addictions of various assortments, that’s somewhat understandable, but Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva was quick to reassure everyone that “there was no evidence of any impairment whatsoever,” and “no odour of alcohol, no evidence of any medication, narcotics or anything like that”.
The investigation continued as Tiger recovered at home, and people moved on, until last week’s news that the vehicle’s black-box recorder showed Woods travelling between 135 to 140 kilometres per hour in a 72 kilometres per hour zone around the time he left his lane and crashed his car.
It’s a very good thing, for Tiger and Genesis GV80 marketers, that the vehicle has such top-notch safety features.
Driving at close to twice the speed limit is at best reckless, and although Villanueva has again stressed that Tiger received no special or preferential treatment, cracks are beginning to appear.
According to The Washington Post, Villanueva said there was “no evidence of any impairment,” and “no open containers in the vehicle and no narcotics or any evidence of medication in the vehicle or on his person.”
That may not be entirely true:
…after the news conference, the sheriff’s department posted on its website, with Woods’s permission, its reports concerning the accident.
In those 22 pages was a detail the sheriff’s department hadn’t mentioned: An empty, unlabeled pill bottle had been found in Woods’s backpack at the accident scene.
The report also for the first time described Woods appearing disoriented and combative after the crash.
Some traffic officials familiar with Californian law say that the empty bottle should have prompted a blood test on Tiger, which was not done.
Hart Levin, a Los Angeles lawyer familiar with DUI cases, said the investigation was “highly irregular” in the lack of effort made to test his blood.
Levin said, in his experience, a pill bottle on the scene is considered a “dead giveaway” to police: “Even if there was nothing to it, it’s probable cause.”
Levin said the other circumstances of the crash typically would make an investigating officer suspicious. “It’s an egregious accident that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense,” Levin said. “He’s going double the speed limit, and he flies off the road in the middle of the day. The police view is going to be either he’s doing it on purpose, which does not seem to be the case here, or he’s probably on something.”
The lawyer said it appeared the deputies did him a favor: “This is the Tiger effect.”
Other traffic lawyers disagreed and said that the unlabelled and empty pill bottle had little evidentiary value.
Forensic crash experts that spoke with USA Today also say Tiger has clearly received special treatment, and that he may have been unconscious at the time of the crash:
They believe the evidence is consistent with Woods being unconscious when he left his lane and then went on a straight path of pure danger for nearly 400 feet instead of staying with the road as it curved right.
Woods didn’t hit the brakes during the recorded collision sequence, didn’t steer out of the emergency and didn’t remember driving.
Jonathan Cherney, a car crash reconstruction expert, said the investigation into the crash appears to be anything but thorough, and that fact that no other vehicles were involved makes it easier to sweep under the rug:
“If he was speeding and attempting to negotiate the curve and lost traction, there would be evidence of that loss of control,” said Cherney, who walked the scene of the crash the day after.
“The vehicle would rotate. There would be tire friction marks on the roadway. The vehicle would not be rolling straight. Clearly, this is not a case of him losing control because he couldn’t negotiate the curve. They are using the speed to justify their causation of unsafe speed.”
Other crash experts said the investigation by authorities doesn’t deal with the underlying cause of the crash. Here’s Charles Schack, president of Crash Experts, which analyses traffic accidents for law firms and insurance companies:
“Taking away the high-profile aspect of this crash and looking at the data and roadway, it appears that the driver made no attempt to follow the roadway during the moments leading to the crash. This is typical of a driver who was incapacitated due to a medical issue, falling asleep or being impaired.”
That article speaks to multiple crash scene experts, with the overwhelming majority saying that Tiger has received preferential treatment throughout the course of the investigation.
You can read it in full here.
Ultimately, golf fans are just keen to see Tiger back on the course, if and when that might be, but it does appear that he might have dodged a bullet or two with regards to his crash in February.
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