Tiger Woods Car Crash: First Responder Details "Traumatic" Accident

Tiger Woods was involved in a car crash in California on Feb. 23. After undergoing surgery for leg injuries, the 45-year-old golfer is "awake, responsive and recovering."

By Elyse Dupre Feb 24, 2021 3:33 PMTags
Watch: Tiger Woods' Car Crash Could Have Been Fatal

Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Deputy Carlos Gonzalez is sharing new details about the first few moments after Tiger Woods' car crash.

As the department previously shared, the LASD responded to a single vehicle roll-over traffic collision at the border of Rolling Hills Estate and Rancho Palos Verdes in California at 7:12 a.m. on Feb. 23. Gonzalez—the first responder at the scene—said he arrived "within minutes of the 9-1-1 call" and found the car on its side about 40 feet off the roadway.

"I saw his eyes, because it was dark in there," Gonzalez explained to Craig Melvin on NBC News' Today. "My first role as a first responder is to assess the passenger and the occupants of the vehicle. And I want to keep them calm, as well. So I ask him, you know, 'Hey, can you tell me your first name?' He looked at me and said, 'Tiger.' It took me a half second, but I saw his face and I thought, 'Oh, yeah, you're Tiger Woods.'"

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Gonzalez said Woods "seemed calm" and was able to answer his questions; however, he said the 45-year-old golfer didn't seem aware of how "gravely" injured he truly was.

"It could be a mixture of adrenaline. It could have been shock," Gonzalez said. "Again, it was very quick—the moment that I arrived from the moment that he had rolled over. So, I don't know if he had time to fully assess his injuries."

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Overall, Gonzalez described the accident as "traumatic in many ways."

"I think there was a lot of energy, obviously, that went into the speeds that made the vehicle travel the distance that it did, the fact that it rolled, the injuries that Mr. Woods sustained," he added. "I've seen collisions that didn't look as serious, where the occupants were injured much more severely. I think that's just a testament to the fact that he was wearing a seat belt, the air bags worked as intended, and modern vehicles are much more safe than they ever used to be."

Today, he just hopes Woods, who recently underwent his fifth back surgery, is OK. "You know, I have a lot of sympathy for Mr. Woods because I'm sure he is going through something very traumatic," Gonzalez said. "I'm sure he's going through a lot of pain. So, you know, I'm hoping for a speedy recovery for him."

According to the LASD, Woods, who was the driver and sole occupant of the vehicle, was traveling northbound on Hawthorne Boulevard, at Blackhorse Road, when his car crashed. At a press conference, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Woods was likely traveling at a "relatively greater speed than normal" thought there is currently no evidence of impairment. 

Woods suffered leg injuries and underwent surgery for his lower right leg and ankle after being brought to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. In a tweet shared Feb. 24, his team noted the pro is "awake, responsive, and recovering."

Watch: Tiger Woods Hospitalized After Car Crash

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