Tiger Woods Injured in Car Crash: Everything We Know

Tiger Woods suffered multiple injuries in a car accident in Los Angeles on Feb. 23, 2021. Here's what we know about the incident so far.

By Corinne Heller Feb 27, 2021 2:10 AMTags
Watch: Tiger Woods' Car Accident: Everything We Know

Legendary golf pro Tiger Woods suffered serious leg injuries in a car crash in Los Angeles on Tuesday, Feb. 23, throwing the future of his career even further in doubt following last year's back surgery.

The 45-year-old PGA star, one of the most celebrated athletes of all time and a father of two, underwent extensive surgery for several hours that afternoon and evening before his rep released a statement saying he was awake and recovering.

Here's what we know so far about the incident, the events leading up to it and what the outlook is for Woods:

Feb. 18—21, 2021: What Was Tiger Woods Doing in Los Angeles Days Before the Crash?

The PGA star was in town to host the Genesis Invitational at the Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades that weekend. Woods did not play himself in the gold tournament because he was recovering from his fifth back surgery, which he underwent in December.

Feb. 22, 2021: One Day Before the Crash—Golfing With Celebs:

The Monday before the crash, Woods gave golf lessons to celebs such as Dwyane Wade, Jada Pinkett Smith and David Spade on-camera for day one of a two-day photo and video shoot for Golf Digest and GOLFTV.

"Tiger has a long-term partnership with Discovery developing exclusive content for GOLFTV and Golf Digest," the latter outlet tells E! News in a statement. "He was filming his latest series with us on Monday which will see him giving on course instruction to a number of celebrities including Jada Pinkett Smith, Dwyane Wade and David Spade. He was due to continue filming with us on Tuesday."

Feb. 23, 2021: The Crash:

Driving solo in a 2021 Genesis GV80, a luxury SUV, Woods heads from a resort in Rancho Palos Verdes to the Rolling Hills Country Club for the shoot. Around 7 a.m. PT, on a clear day, while driving downhill along the winding Hawthorne Boulevard—a frequent scene of car accidents and where the speed limit is 45 mph, he loses control of the vehicle.

Tiger Woods' Family Photos

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva tells reporters Woods was likely traveling at a "relatively greater speed than normal" at a stretch of road known for a "high frequency of accidents." 

Woods crashes into the center divider—smashing a "Welcome to Rolling Hills Estates" sign, hits a curb and a tree, rolls over a few times and stops on its side 30 yards off the road, lying on its side, the Los Angeles Times reports. The car, the outlet says, was so damaged that its doors could not be opened, and the street shows no skid marks or signs braking. The cause of the crash remains under investigation. 

"Deputies at the time did not see any evidence of impairment," Villanueva tells reporters. "He was alive and he was conscious and that's the extent of that."

He adds, "What we're at is signs of under the influence of either narcotics, medication, alcohol, order of alcohol—all these different things that would give you an idea in their behavior, but there was none present.

Villanueva tells reporters that a neighbor called 911 at 7:12 a.m. local time. He says, "We have to assume they made that call almost immediately, as soon as it happened, because the neighbors are sitting right within 50 feet of the location."

Ryan Kang/AP/Shutterstock

Feb. 23, 2021: Tiger Woods Is Rescued:

County Fire Chief Daryl Osby tells reporters Woods was trapped in the vehicle and that LAFD personnel used a halligen tool and an ax to pry him out. They did not use the "jaws of life," as authorities had said in an initial statement. He also says Woods was in stable condition but had serious injuries, and was transported to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrence, Calif.

Watch: Tiger Woods' Car Accident: Celebrities React

Carlos Gonzalez, the Los Angeles sheriff's deputy who first arrived at the scene of the crash, tells reporters Woods was found conscious in the driver's seat but was "not able to stand under his own power." He was, however, responsive and "calm and lucid." He was also wearing a seatbelt, he says.

Gonzalez tells reporters he determined it was safer to wait for firefighters to arrive to move Woods rather than try to do it himself. The following morning, Gonzalez would recall to NBC News Today, "I saw his eyes, because it was dark in there. 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.'"

Feb. 23, 2021: Tiger Woods' Agent Releases an Afternoon Statement:

"Tiger Woods was in a single-car accident this morning in California where he suffered multiple leg injuries," the golf star's agent Mark Steinberg says in a statement to NBC News and other outlets a little before 1 p.m. "He is currently in surgery and we thank you for your privacy and support."

Feb. 23, 2021: Celebs, Including Woods' Ex, Send Thoughts and Prayers:

Pinkett Smith and other stars, such as Woods' ex-girlfriend and alpine skiing legend Lindsey Vonn, post messages of support for the athlete.

Feb. 23, 2021: ...So Does Another Ex:

"Obviously, I'm shaken to see this," Rachel Uchitel, whose affair with Woods made headlines in 2009, says in a statement to E! News. "I'm really hoping he walks out of there OK. Knowing Tiger, this is the last thing he wants, the entire world watching him this way. On the golf course, yes, but not like this."

She noted, "The most important thing is to make sure he's OK. Thank God it's a non-life threatening injury... He's one of the greatest athletes in the world and we've been seeing him in one of the greatest sports comebacks in history. It's going to be interesting to see what happens."

Tiger Woods Through the Years

Feb. 23, 2021: Tiger Woods Is Out of Surgery:

At 9:30 p.m. PT, Woods' TGR Foundation releases a new statement on Twitter about his medical condition, saying he underwent a "long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle" and "is currently awake, responsive, and recovering in the hospital room."

"Mr. Woods suffered significant orthopaedic injuries to his right lower extremity that was treated during emergency surgery by Orthopaedic trauma specialists at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a level 1 trauma center," Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer and interim CEO at the hospital, is quoted as saying. "Comminuted open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones were stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia. Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins. Trauma to the muscle and soft-tissue of the leg required surgical release of the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling."

NBC News medical correspondent Dr. John Torres tells the Today show that Woods' injuries could have potentially led to the loss of his leg if first responders and doctors had not acted quickly.

Feb. 24, 2021: No Criminal Charges Expected:

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

He said Woods did not show any signs of being drunk or under the influence of drugs, explaining, "This is what it is, an accident. A reckless driving charge has a lot of elements to it. This is purely an accident."

Feb. 25, 2021: Tiger Woods Moves to a Different Hospital:

According to a statement released by the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and obtained by E! News, Woods is transferred to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for "continued orthopedic care and recovery." 

"On behalf of our staff," the statement continues in part, "it was an honor to provide orthopaedic trauma care to one of our generation's greatest athletes." 

Feb. 26, 2021: Tiger Woods Undergoes Additional Procedures:

The athlete's team says he's "recovering and in good spirits" following additional procedures on his injuries. 

The statement read, "Tiger and his family want to thank you all for the wonderful support and messages they have received over the past few days."

(E! and NBC News are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)

(This story was originally published on Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2020 at 1:19 p.m. PST)