What I hear: Golfwick̵
The available evidence from the recent car accident involving Tiger Woods suggests that the famous golfer was not aware of the road and drove out of it before crashing into his car, three forensic car accident experts told USA TODAY Sports.
The same experts also say that the evidence does not indicate that he lost control of his vehicle due to excessive speed on a curved road downhill known for fast cars.
They arrived at this theory based on several factors, especially the way Woods’ vehicle appeared to continue going straight ahead instead of staying on the road as it curved to the right.
Woods, 45, was traveling north near Los Angeles as his sports utility vehicle left its lane, crossed the median into the southbound lanes, then went off the road, hit a tree, rolled over and sustained major frontal injuries. Woods also broke several bones in his lower right leg, indicating that he applied the brake at the time of the impact, according to experts. They also said the evidence suggests Woods put the brake late into the collision sequence.
“To me, this is like a classic case of falling asleep behind the wheel because the road turns and his vehicle goes straight,” said Jonathan Cherney, a consultant who provides analysis of car accidents as an expert witness in lawsuits. Cherney, a former police detective, personally investigated Woods’ crash site since the accident Tuesday.
“It’s a drive from the road, almost as if he was either unconscious, suffering from a medical episode or falling asleep and not waking up until he was off the road, and this is where the braking application came in,” Cherney said.
There were no slip marks on the road to indicate braking, according to Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva. Woods’ vehicle had anti-lock brakes. So even if he had to slam on the brakes before hitting the curb, “you would not necessarily see tire marks,” said Felix Lee, an accident reconstruction expert who is part of the Expert Institute, a network that provides expert witnesses in lawsuits.
Lee said an important clue is how the vehicle did not change direction in the curve and instead went directly into the median.
“My feeling is that speed was not that much of an issue,” Lee said. “It was just some kind of inattention that caused the curb strike.”
After leaving his lane and hitting the median, Woods’ vehicle went about 400 feet before stopping. Cherney said he saw no evidence of “any control input” that would indicate Woods was trying to avoid the emergency.
This suggests a “very delayed response” from Woods to the situation, said Rami Hashish, rector of the National Biomechanics Institute, which analyzes the cause of accidents. “It suggested he was not paying attention at all.”
Hashish said he suspects damage to the vehicle and Woods would have been much bigger if he had been driving at too high a speed. The speed limit on that road is 45 km / h.
“You can walk away with a broken leg from 45 to 50 mph,” Hashish said. “If you hit 60, 65, and you hit a stationary object, your probability of death increases exponentially.”
If he had to walk 80 km / h, “he would not have an open fracture in this leg,” said Hashish. “He would be dead.”
Villanueva, LA County Sheriff, said he did not know the vehicle’s speed yet, but said it could have been a factor as well as inattention. The accident was serious enough to end Woods’ golf career. He had to be pulled out of the vehicle and taken to the hospital for surgery.
“This stretch of road is challenging, and if you are not aware, you can see what is happening,” Villanueva said on Wednesday.
Villanueva said at the time that the crash was “purely an accident” and that there were no signs of disability or medication involved. He also said Woods was “ready” by the time a sheriff’s deputy arrived at the scene Tuesday. But that doesn’t mean he might not have been paying attention as he left his lane and continued until he crashed.
The experts found it confusing that Villanueva had already determined that it was an accident without having examined the vehicle’s “black box” computer, which could reveal his steering, braking or acceleration actions before the collision. Villanueva said on Wednesday that information has not yet been drawn.
Regarding an examination of Woods’ blood to see if he was medicated, Villanueva said Wednesday that the hospital may have this information.
“We assume that during the treatment they draw blood, and of course they have to do it because he has to go into surgery and all that,” he said. “But it will require a search warrant on our part to go into detail.”
USA TODAY Sports contacted the sheriff’s department on Saturday to ask if Woods’ black box or blood was being examined. The sheriff’s department responded with a statement:
“The traffic collision investigation is underway and traffic investigators have not drawn any conclusions about the cause of the collision.”
Woods announced in January that he recently underwent the latest of several surgical procedures on his back. In 2017, police found him asleep at the wheel of Florida. A toxicology report stated that he had Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax, Ambien and THC in his system at the time when he was arrested on suspicion of full driving. Ambien is used to treat sleep problems and has been used by Woods in the past.
“There is no real accident unless it is a real medical emergency,” Cherney said. “There is always a certain level of negligence, whether it is simple negligence like looking down at your phone or changing the radio station that starts the whole collision sequence. … So when the sheriff says this is just an accident, I do not know how in the world one can say it so early in the game without conducting a thorough thorough investigation and reconstruction analysis. ”
Villanueva’s statement that this was an accident was a “preliminary” assessment, sheriff’s deputy Graciela Medrano said Saturday.
Cherney noted the weight of this SUV, a Genesis SV80, could be around 6,000 pounds, much more than a standard passenger car of around 3,500 pounds. Such a heavy weight could help explain the damage done during the crash, as opposed to having it due to excessive speed, he said. He questions whether the vehicle actually overturned “several times”, as the sheriff has previously stated.
“I view a rollover as a full revolution, not just falling on the side,” Cherney said. “I do not think the vehicle experienced as many revolutions or complete rolls as they depict.”
He also noted that there are tire marks on the median, but “you can’t see any tire marks again until he actually gets out of the way,” Cherney said. “And when he goes off the road, both tires on the left and right side hit it, and you can see he just walked right over the edge. To me, it’s also a sign that he did not brake, and he went on and continued from the side of the road until he hit the brush. Probably at some point when he hit the curb, he regained consciousness and decided to slow down. ”
Woods’ Twitter account on Friday said he was recovering from surgery and “in a good mood.”
“We have no further updates at this time,” the statement said on his Twitter account. “Thank you for your continued privacy.”
Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. Email: email@example.com