L.A. sheriff says he doesn't expect charges against Tiger Woods in crash

David K. Li
Law enforcement officers watch as a crane is used to lift a vehicle following a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods, Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2021, in the Rancho Palos Verdes section of Los Angeles.
Ringo H.W. Chiu | AP

Tiger Woods is unlikely to face criminal charges stemming from the serious car crash that briefly trapped him inside mangled wreckage, a top Southern California law enforcement official said Wednesday.

While the district attorney would have final say, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said he can't fathom Woods facing even a misdemeanor charge like reckless driving for Tuesday's crash.

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"We don't contemplate any charges whatsoever," Villanueva told reporters. "This remains an accident; an accident is not a crime. They do happen, unfortunately."

Woods did not show any signs of being drunk or under the influence of drugs, according to the sheriff. Investigators didn't even bring in a drug recognition expert, a deputy who is specially trained to spot signs of impairment from drugs.

"This is what it is, an accident," Villanueva said. "A reckless driving charge has a lot of elements to it. This is purely an accident."

Woods could still be blamed for the crash if he were at fault, for example, for speeding or being distracted. But that doesn't add up to a criminal charge.

"There'll be a cause of it and there'll be a vehicle code attached to the cause ... but that's an infraction and reckless driving is actually more than an infraction. It's a misdemeanor crime that has a lot of elements attached to it," the sheriff said. "There's nothing like that" here.

Woods crashed his sports utility vehicle early Tuesday morning on the Palos Verdes peninsula, south of Los Angeles.

That stretch of road, on Hawthorne Boulevard near Blackhorse Road, has a tricky curve and downhill slope. It's been the scene of 13 accidents since the start of 2020, which has included four injuries, Villanueva said.

Woods was conscious throughout the incident and was able to speak to a responding deputy.

"I kept him talking," Deputy Carlos Gonzalez told NBC's "TODAY" show. "I asked him basic things to gauge his mental state, like do you know where you are right now? Do you know what day it is? You know, just to see if he was aware of what had occurred."