By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Tiger Woods was involved in an early-morning, one-car accident Friday just outside of his Florida home, suffering what a Florida Highway Patrol spokeswoman called "definite injuries." Woods, the world's No. 1 golfer and one of the most recognizable faces in sports, was treated at and released from a local hospital, and both a statement on Woods's Web site and a Woods spokesman characterized the accident as "minor."
Sgt. Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol said the accident remains under investigation and that federal privacy laws prevented officials from going into details of the injuries, but she added, "This is not a bump or a bruise."
Windermere, Fla., Sheriff Daniel Saylor told the Associated Press that Woods's wife, Elin Nordegren, told his officers -- the first emergency personnel on the scene in the exclusive waterfront neighborhood of Isleworth -- that she used a golf club to smash out the back window of Woods's 2009 Cadillac sport-utility vehicle in an effort to help her husband get out of the vehicle. Saylor said Woods was in and out of consciousness when his officers arrived, and had cuts on his lips and blood in his mouth. The Orlando Sentinel, citing a call report compiled by the Orange County sheriff's office, said Woods was unconscious for about six minutes.
According to the report filed by the Florida Highway Patrol, Woods, 33, was leaving his residence in the gated community, about 12 miles southwest of Orlando, at 2:25 a.m., when he first struck a fire hydrant, then a tree. He was the only person in the car, Montes said.
The report from the Florida Highway Patrol indicated that alcohol was not involved in the accident. Saylor, the Windermere chief, told the AP that his officers did not suspect alcohol as a factor, either. Montes, the police spokeswoman, said emergency personnel arrived on the scene before the highway patrol and took Woods to the hospital, so the highway patrol did not administer blood-alcohol tests.
"When the trooper got to the hospital, [Woods] was being treated, and the trooper couldn't get to him," Montes said. "His health takes precedence. That happens a lot. We didn't get a chance to talk to him then. At the scene of the accident, there was no evidence of alcohol."
Woods was taken to Health Central Hospital in nearby Ocoee. It is unclear how long Woods spent at the hospital. The Florida Highway Patrol's report from the accident scene, which was released some 12 hours after the incident, listed Woods's injuries as "serious." Montes said such characterization is typical for cases in which a victim is taken to a hospital.
Glenn Greenspan, a spokesman for Woods, said Friday afternoon by e-mail that the accident was "minor" and that Woods was "treated and released today in good condition."
"We appreciate very much everyone's thoughts and well wishes," the statement on Woods's Web site said.
The report states that Woods "had just pulled out of the driveway at his residence. . . . As [the vehicle] began to drive on Deacon Circle, [the vehicle] struck a fire hydrant. The front of [the vehicle] then struck a tree. . . . The crash remains under investigation and charges are pending."
Montes said it is "too early" to say whether charges will be filed or not, and could not say what those charges might be.
"To be fair to Tiger, we want a chance to talk to him," Montes said. "That's standard procedure. There could be charges; there could be no charges. That determination will be made after we have a chance to further investigate. It's very early."
The 14-time major champion, who came back from surgery to rebuild his left leg this year, last played Nov. 12-15 in Melbourne, Australia, where he won the JBWere Masters.
Woods is scheduled to play Thursday at the Chevron World Challenge in Thousand Oaks, Calif., one of two tournaments he hosts to benefit his foundation -- the other being the AT&T National, which has been staged at Bethesda's Congressional Country Club the past three summers.
Woods's team did not comment on whether Woods would be able to play in his own event.