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The LA county sheriff has defended his agency’s investigation of Tiger Woods’ devastating crash, saying the golf legend did not receive special treatment from law enforcement.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva also said Tiger showed no “obvious” signs of impairment at the scene of the crash Feb. 23, when he crashed a loaned Genesis GV80, breaking several bones in his leg, USA Today Sports reported.
Villanueva had not previously stressed the word “obvious” when discussing whether Woods appeared impaired that day, according to the news outlet.
Woods was not evaluated by a drug recognition expert, or DRE, an omission that some accident reconstruction experts have criticized because the 45-year-old was reportedly unable to remember driving the vehicle, as well as the crash itself.
DREs make a determination of whether blood should be tested by questioning the driver about medications and examining the person’s eyes and vital signs.
“For anybody suggesting he somehow received any different treatment than anybody else, he did not,” Villanueva told USA Today Sports on Wednesday.
“I can tell you this: We do need more drug-recognition experts within the department. We need to hire more, but then again, that costs money. We need to train more. We’re going to be training with the resources we have to increase our pool of available DRE experts,” he said.
“And that’s something that obviously, lessons learned from every incident and how can we can apply what we learned to future events and to make ourselves more, a better organization and more effective? And those are one of the things we’re going to be doing,” Villanueva added.
A sheriff’s deputy noted that Woods — who was wearing a seatbelt and his airbags were deployed — had “injuries/lacerations” to his face and broken bones in his leg but did not mention head injuries, which could affect a driver’s memory, USA Today Sport reported.
Sheriff’s officials also described him as alert and “lucid” when they arrived.
On Wednesday, Villanueva said they were concerned for Woods’ health in the absence of obvious impairment or other crash victims.
“Our concern shifts to the humanitarian, you know life-preservation, those kinds of things, and the accident becomes secondary,” he told the outlet.
The sheriff and one of his deputies have said they decided not to seek a search warrant to obtain blood evidence at the hospital because they didn’t have probable cause for it at the time.
The sheriff’s department did execute a search warrant to obtain data from the vehicle’s “black box,” which could show how fast Woods was going and any braking or steering activity.
Asked what he learned from the black box, Villaneuva replied, “We learned a few things, which is important,” adding that the investigation is almost over.
“In the next few weeks we’re going to have the entire thing completed,” he said.
Woods, who was hospitalized for three weeks, announced on Tuesday that he was “back home.”
“I will be recovering at home and working on getting stronger every day,” he said.
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