EDITOR’S NOTE: After the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department initially tweeted the “jaws of life” were used to rescue Tiger Woods, the city’s fire department confirmed at 6 p.m. Tuesday that the LASD was mistaken, noting that other equipment had been used to extricate him.
Tiger Woods is awake, responsive and recovering in hospital after suffering multiple injuries to his legs in a serious car crash Tuesday, according to his team and medical officials.
In a statement posted to his social media channels late Tuesday night, Woods’ representatives said the golf superstar underwent “a long surgical procedure” on his lower right leg and ankle after his SUV rolled over and crashed on a hill in Los Angeles.
“We thank everyone for the overwhelming support and messages during this tough time,” the statement read.
The statement included a detailed explanation of Woods’ surgery by Dr. Anish Mahajan, the chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center where Woods is being treated.
Mahajan said Woods’ right leg was stabilized with a rod, while “additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins.” He added Woods’ leg muscles and soft tissue also suffered trauma and required surgery to reduce pressure.
Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg told Global News in an emailed statement Tuesday afternoon that the golfer “suffered multiple leg injuries” in a single-vehicle accident Tuesday morning.
It was later confirmed Woods sustained injuries to both legs, yet Woods’ Tuesday night statement did not mention his left leg.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said Woods, 45, was driving northbound on an intersection near the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes at 7:12 a.m. when the car rolled “several hundred feet” from the intersection’s centre divider, hit two road signs and crashed into a tree, sustaining major damage.
Villanueva said officers arrived at 7:18 a.m. to find Woods alone in the car, adding there were no signs of impairment.
“We’re looking at signs of under the influence of either narcotics, medication, alcohol, odour of alcohol, all these different things that would give you an idea in their behaviour, but there (were) none present,” he said.
L.A. County sheriff deputy Austreberto Gonzalez, who was among the first on the scene, said Woods was in serious but stable condition when he was placed on a stretcher and immediately taken to a trauma centre. He noted Woods was conscious but unable to stand. He also said Woods had been wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash.
“We’re lucky Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said.
Initially, the LASD tweeted he needed to be pulled from the wreckage with the “jaws of life” by firefighters and paramedics and transported to a local hospital. However, Daryl Osby, fire chief with the Los Angeles Fire Department later clarified that a halligan tool, which is used for prying, and an axe were used to rescue Woods.
Osby added that Woods was not in life-endangering condition when he was transported to the trauma centre, saying that the interior of the car was still intact when Woods was pried from the car.
“The interior was more or less intact, which kind of gave him the cushion to survive what otherwise would have been a fatal crash,” he said.
Osby said he couldn’t speak to Wood’s condition, but noted that “any time you’re involved in a single-vehicle accident like this with roll-over and that level of damage and broken legs and lacerations, you’re going to be in severe pain.”
Emerging photos and video of the wreckage showed the overturned vehicle off the side of a road, with deployed airbags and significant damage to the car’s front and back ends.
There was a second crash when a vehicle that had apparently stopped to help Woods was hit, Villanueva said, describing those involved in the second crash as “looky loos.” He added the second wreck was minor, and no one was hurt.
The PGA Tour said it was awaiting further information when Woods gets out of surgery.
“On behalf of the PGA TOUR and our players, Tiger is in our prayers and will have our full support as he recovers,” the statement read.
Fred Ridley, chairman of the Masters Tournament in Georgia, said in a tweet that the “news of his accident is upsetting to all of us,” calling Woods “part of the Augusta National family.”
“We pray for him, for his full recovery and for his family during this difficult time,” he said.
Woods has won the tournament five times. Jack Nicklaus, the only American golfer to win more Masters than Woods (six), also took to Twitter after hearing the news to wish him a successful surgery.
“Barbara and I just heard about Tiger’s accident, and like everyone else, we are deeply concerned,” he said.
“We want to offer him our heartfelt support and prayers at this difficult time.”
In a tweet Tuesday evening, former U.S. president Barack Obama said he was sending his prayers to Woods and his family.
“Here’s to a speedy recovery for the GOAT of golf,” he wrote. “If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s to never count Tiger out.”
Woods, a 15-time major golf champion who shares the PGA Tour record of 82 career wins with fellow American golfer Sam Snead, has been recovering from surgery on his lower back — the fifth back operation of his career.
On Jan. 19, his social media team tweeted that he needed surgery after experiencing “discomfort” while playing at the PNC Championship in December.
They said he had undergone a “microdisectomy procedure to remove a pressurized disc fragment that was pinching his nerve” and was expected to make a full recovery.
This is the third time Woods has been involved in a car investigation.
In May 2017, he was arrested on a DUI charge after Florida police found him asleep behind the wheel of his Mercedes parked awkwardly on the side of the road.
Woods later pleaded guilty to reckless driving and agreed to enter a diversion program that required he perform 20 hours of community service and attend a workshop where other people who had driven under the influence discussed how their lives were damaged by drunk driving.
In 2009, he drove his SUV over a fire hydrant and hit a tree outside of his Florida home, leading to reports of extramarital affairs that lost him most of his major sponsorships.
Shortly after, he announced he would be taking a break from golfing until 2010 and checked into a rehabilitation clinic for sex addiction.
— With files from Global News’ Hannah Jackson, Sean Boynton and the Associated Press