It was here that, shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday, Tiger Woods crashed a 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV in an accident that sent the golf legend to the hospital with serious leg injuries after the vehicle flipped multiple times before coming to rest several hundred feet from the road. This past weekend, Woods had hosted, but not competed at, the PGA Tour’s Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club, which is about 25 miles north of the crash location.
Authorities from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles County Fire Department described a harrowing scene: Woods was found alone, conscious and pinned in the driver’s seat of his vehicle, which was severely damaged and had deployed its air bags. Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, the first officer who arrived on the scene, said Woods was communicative when he first made contact.
“I spoke to him,” Gonzalez said. “I asked him what his name was. He told me his name was Tiger. At that moment, I immediately recognized him. I asked him if he knew where he was and what time of day, just to make sure he was oriented. He seemed as though he was lucid and calm.”
A neighbor, whose house had an elevated view above where Woods’s car came to rest, heard the crash and called the police, and officers were on the scene within minutes. Fire department officials used a pry bar and an ax to free Woods from the vehicle. Woods, who was unable to walk away from the scene under his own power, was transported to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in serious but stable condition, and there were no other cars involved. Woods was wearing a seat belt, authorities said, or the crash could have been fatal.
“It’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said. “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.”
“Any time you’re involved in a single-vehicle accident like this, with rollover and that level of damage, and broken legs and lacerations, that you’re going to be in severe pain,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Chief Daryl Osby said.
An extended stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard, running from Blackhorse Road to Palos Verdes Drive, remained blocked off Tuesday afternoon as officers investigated the scene and prepared to remove the vehicle, which bore decals from the Genesis Invitational.
Woods showed “no signs of impairment” when authorities arrived at the scene, Sheriff Alex Villanueva said. The temperature on a sunny February day reached nearly 80 degrees in the afternoon, and roads in the area weren’t wet. Authorities confirmed, per Villanueva, that weather was “not a factor” in the crash, which prompted a second, minor traffic accident as another motorist took in the sight of Woods’s wreck.
Gonzalez said crashes in the area are common because the “downhill” and “sweeping” stretch of Hawthorne Boulevard descends quickly and features an “S” curve, which can cause motorists to exceed the speed limit without realizing it.
“That specific stretch of roadway is one of our trouble spots,” Gonzalez said. “Our locals in Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills Estates know it’s a hot spot for traffic collisions as well as speed. ... I have seen many collisions. The nature of his vehicle, the fact that he was wearing a seat belt, I would say that it greatly increased the likelihood that it saved his life.”
Woods was traveling northbound at the time of the crash — heading downward in elevation — when he apparently left his lane, crashed into a sign on the median that reads “Welcome to Rolling Hills Estates,” crossed into the southbound lanes, skipped a curb and went into a nearby field, where his vehicle hit a tree and came to a stop. Villanueva said Woods’s vehicle probably was traveling at a “relatively greater speed than normal” at the time of the crash.
Gonzalez said his department regularly patrols that stretch of road for speeding enforcement, often clocking violators going 80 mph — nearly double the 45-mph speed limit.
“People see a nice stretch of road and maybe they’re not watching their speedometer, or maybe they’re in a hurry,” he said.
There are signs warning motorists to watch their downhill speed through the area. The slope is significant: Media members who arrived at the crash site Tuesday afternoon labored as they carried equipment back up the hill to the nearest street parking, located in a nearby neighborhood.
The news of Woods’s crash, which conjured memories of Kobe Bryant’s fatal helicopter crash last year, brought more than a dozen reporters to the site. News helicopters whirred above the scene all afternoon, and more than two dozen camera crews descended upon the sheriff’s station for a news conference, filling the small parking lot and prompting officers to keep watch from the building’s roof.