Golf legend Tiger Woods’ lengthy emergency surgery following his one-vehicle rollover crash required the insertion of a rod, screws and pins to stabilize his leg, according to a statement on his Twitter account.
Woods was “awake, responsive, and recovering,” after the surgery at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, the statement said.
The 45-year-old was driving shortly after 7 a.m. PT on Tuesday in Rancho Palos Verdes, near Los Angeles, when the SUV he was using crossed a median and veered across two lanes of road before hitting a curb, hitting a tree and landing on its side in the brush.
Woods remained conscious but sustained serious leg injuries, authorities said Tuesday.
Orthopedic trauma specialists inserted a rod into his tibia to stabilize both the tibia and fibula bones, stabilized the foot and ankle bones with a combination of screws and pins and relieved pressure to the muscle and soft-tissue of his leg by surgically releasing the covering of the muscle, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anish Mahajan said in the statement.
Having seen the damage at the crash site, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said it was “nothing short of a miracle” that Woods was alive.
“We have seen accidents with far less obvious [damage] that are fatalities,” Villanueava told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Tuesday.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez responded to the crash, where he found a lucid Woods, still strapped into his seat belt but trapped as the vehicle had rolled over onto the driver’s side door. Gonzalez said that once he realized the golfer was conscious, he kept him talking in hopes of keeping him from going further into shock before medical help could arrive.
“I do think the fact that he was wearing a seat belt and that the vehicle safety features worked as designed by the manufacturer likely resulted in either reducing his injury or saving his life,” Gonzalez told Cuomo.
When he arrived at the scene, Woods seemed not only lucid, but calm and not concerned about his injuries — potentially pointing to shock, Gonzalez said.
Los Angeles County Fire officials arrived to break him free, but the golfer tried to remove himself from the SUV but was unable to, Chief Daryl Osby told CNN’s John Berman. Woods could not stand on his own, Gonzalez said.
Firefighters used a pry bar and an ax to free the golfer, who this past weekend hosted a PGA Tour event in the area but didn’t play because of recent back surgery.
They broke the windshield with the ax and used the bar to pry the seats and metal from around Woods’ legs, Osby said.
The rescue workers put Woods in a neck collar, attached leg splints and used a backboard to get him through the giant hole in the windshield to an ambulance. He went to the hospital in serious but stable condition with injuries to both legs, Osby said.
How the crash happened
The 15-time major champion was driving a Genesis SUV courtesy vehicle and is believed to have been traveling at a high rate of speed, authorities said. There were no skid marks or other indications of braking, Villanueva added.
Villanueva said that section of road is “downhill on a curve,” and he and Gonzalez said the area is known as a trouble spot for speeding and accidents.
Deputies responding to Woods saw no evidence of impairment, Villanueva said, and they didn’t ask hospital officials to take a blood draw, he said. A Los Angeles law enforcement source told CNN that no field sobriety test was administered because of the seriousness of Woods’ injuries.
The sheriff’s department said Woods was the only occupant of the car.
Another car, not involved in the initial rollover incident, stopped after the crash and was rear-ended, according to Los Angeles County PIO Henry Narvaez.
Woods hosted Genesis international and was on the course the day before
Woods likely was headed for the Rolling Hills Country Club in nearby Rolling HIlls Estates for a shoot with Golf Digest and Golf TV, according to Daniel Rapaport, the Tiger Woods correspondent for Golf Digest.
“Tiger has a long-term partnership with Discovery developing exclusive content for GOLFTV and Golf Digest,” Golf Digest’s statement said. “He was filming his latest series with us yesterday, which will see him giving on-course instruction to a number of celebrities including Jada Pinkett Smith, Dwyane Wade and David Spade. He was due to continue filming with us today.”
Tuesday’s scheduled filming was to include Woods with Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, a source familiar with the shoot told CNN. ESPN reported that New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was also to be a part of the shoot with Herbert.
CNN has reached out to the New Orleans Saints for comment but has not heard back.
Woods had a 7:30 a.m. call time, with shooting supposed to begin around 8. It was the second day of shooting.
Rapaport told CNN’s “Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer” that Woods was not playing or hitting, but was giving on-course playing lessons to celebrities.
“He was in good spirits on Monday when he did that,” Rapaport said of the shoot.
Woods had hosted the Genesis Invitational over the weekend, and was seen intermittently on Saturday and more often during Sunday’s final round.
Many sports stars posted their support for Woods following news of the crash.
“Love you big brother… but We will get through this,” Serena Williams wrote on Twitter.
“Barbara and I just heard about Tiger’s accident, and like everyone else, we are deeply concerned,” said Jack Nicklaus, a legendary golfer who has won the most majors of all time, on Twitter. “We want to offer him our heartfelt support and prayers at this difficult time. Please join us in wishing Tiger a successful surgery and all the best for a full recovery.”