Tiger Woods did not appear to be “aware of how gravely he was injured” after his car crash in California, the first officer on the scene has said.
The 45-year-old golf star suffered serious leg injuries when his car hit a kerb and then a tree before rolling several times on the border of Rolling Hills Estates and Rancho Palos Verdes in Los Angeles on Tuesday morning.
No other cars were involved.
Carlos Gonzalez, a deputy from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, told NBC News he arrived within minutes of a 911 call from a member of the public.
Asked if Woods was aware of his injuries, the officer said: “He didn’t mention anything. I don’t think he was aware of how gravely he was injured at the time.
“It could be a mixture of adrenaline. It could have been shock.
“Again, it was very quick – the moment I arrived from the moment he rolled over – so I don’t know if he had time to fully assess his injuries.”
Woods’s 2021 Genesis SUV was found 12m (40ft) from the road. Aerial footage showed the car on its side, with its front end heavily damaged and its airbags deployed.
Asked if Woods was saying anything at that point, the officer replied: “He wasn’t. I saw his eyes, because it was dark in there, and my first role as a first responder is to assess the passenger, the occupants of the vehicle, and I want to keep them calm as well.”
He asked Woods if he could tell him his first name: “He looked at me and he said, ‘Tiger’.”
“It took me a half second, but I saw his face and I thought, oh yeah, you’re Tiger Woods,” continued the officer.
He asked the sportsman questions to assess his physical and mental state.
“He seemed calm. He didn’t seem like he was in distress, and he was able to kind of talk to me a little bit,” the officer said.
“I noticed the passenger compartment seemed mostly in tact and he didn’t seem like he was in any further danger.
“I did consider pulling him out myself, but I decided it would be better to wait for the fire departments since they have the specialised tools and training to remove people safely from vehicles like that.”
Carlos Gonzalez said earlier that Woods was “very fortunate” to survive the crash.
Authorities investigating the incident have said there is no evidence Woods was impaired at the time.
Asked if a toxicology report was ordered at the scene, the officer said he was “unaware” of one.
“At the scene we are looking for evidence of intoxication, like if there is an odour of an alcoholic beverage or if there is an open container, or prescription medication.
“At this time we didn’t see any evidence of impairment, and anything beyond that, in terms of medical or toxicology, I wouldn’t be aware at this time.”
He suggested Woods’s injuries may have been more severe if he had not been wearing a seat belt.
“This accident was traumatic in many ways. There is a lot of energy that went into the speeds that made the vehicle travel the distances that it did, the fact that it rolled, the injuries that Mr Woods sustained, and I’ve seen collisions that didn’t look as serious where the occupants were injured much more severely,” he said.
“I think that is a testament to the fact that he was wearing a seat belt, the airbags worked as intended and modern vehicles are much more safe than they used to be.”
Woods, a 15-time major champion, was cut free from the vehicle and rushed to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center where he underwent significant surgery and is recovering from his injuries.
A statement from his TGR foundation said he is “currently awake, responsive and recovering in his hospital room”.
The officer added: “I have a lot of sympathy for Mr Woods because I’m sure he’s going through something traumatic and I’m sure he’s going through a lot of pain, so I’m hoping for a speedy recovery for him.”