Los Angeles, Feb 23 (efe-epa).- Golf icon Tiger Woods, who on Tuesday morning was injured in a one-car rollover crash in Los Angeles County, California, is in “stable” condition, albeit with “serious injuries to both legs,” Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a press conference.
Villanueva said that Woods’ SUV – which he was alone in at the time of the accident – was extensively damaged in the crash, adding that the accident was potentially fatal.
“The interior, the (cabin) of the vehicle was more or less intact. The front end was totally destroyed, the bumpers, everything totally destroyed, airbags deployed, all of that. However, thankfully the interior was more or less intact, which kind of gave him the cushion to survive what otherwise would have been a fatal crash,” Villanueva said.
The sheriff said that Woods was wearing his seatbelt when his car went off the road and rolled down an incline, adding that when emergency personnel got to the vehicle, the golfer was conscious.
Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was the first officer on the scene after the accident, said that “I asked what his name was, he told me his name was Tiger. And at that moment I immediately recognized him. I asked him if he knew where he was, what time of day, to make sure he was oriented. He seemed as though he was lucid and calm.”
“He didn’t seem concerned about his injuries at the time, which is not uncommon in traffic collisions. Many times people tend to be in shock. It’s a traumatic experience. It’s not uncommon for people to be focused on unimportant things or even if they are in pain, they may not feel it until much later,” the deputy added.
Regarding the cause of the crash, the sheriff said that everything pointed to the fact that Woods was driving at a relatively high rate of speed heading downhill along a curving road, although the investigation into the accident is still ongoing.
The sheriff also said that the stretch of roadway has been the scene of frequent accidents.
The Sheriff’s Office said on Tuesday morning that its deputies responded to the crash at 7:12 am, saying that the vehicle had suffered “major” damage.
“The driver and sole occupant was identified as PGA golfer Eldrick ‘Tiger’ Woods,” the Sheriff’s Office tweeted, adding that “Mr. Woods was extricated with the ‘jaws of life’ by Los Angeles firefighters and paramedics, then transported to hospital (by) ambulance for his injuries.”
Several local media outlets reported Woods’ condition as “critical,” although early in the day there had been no official announcement to back up that reporting.
The golfer’s car was traveling northbound on Hawthorne Blvd. in the Rolling Hills Estates residential area, heading downhill when it apparently crossed into the southbound lanes and off the road, traveling and rolling quite a distance before coming to rest.
News images show the bashed-up car lying on its side at the bottom of an incline.
Los Angeles channel ABC 7 reported that Woods was taken to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, and the Sheriff’s Department’s Lt. Michael White said in a public statement that the golfer’s injuries were non-life-threatening.
Mark Steinberg – Woods’ agent – issued a public statement just before noon in Los Angeles saying that “Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries. He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support.”
Woods, 45, was in the area for the annual Genesis Invitational golf tourney at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades, near Santa Monica, in Los Angeles, according to TMZ magazine.
Because he was still recovering from back surgery, Woods did not play in the tournament, but he did congratulate the winner, Max Homa, and played golf with Dwyane Wade after the event.
Woods is one of the most successful golfers of all time, spending a record non-consecutive 683 weeks as the No. 1-ranked golfer in the world, most recently from March 2013 until May 2014.
Born in Cypress, California, Woods has won the Augusta Masters on five occasions and the US Open and the British Open three times each, along with assorted other titles during his long career.