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Here's what we know about Tiger Woods' car wreck and injuries

CNN logo CNN 2/24/2021 By Amir Vera, CNN
a car on a dirt road: Tiger Woods' vehicle rests on its side after the rollover accident Tuesday. © Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP Tiger Woods' vehicle rests on its side after the rollover accident Tuesday.

The world held its breath awaiting news of Tiger Woods' condition after the golf legend suffered serious injuries Tuesday in a rollover crash near Los Angeles.

Woods, 45, was awake and responsive after a lengthy surgery at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, according to a statement early Wednesday on his Twitter account.

Here's what we know so far about the crash:

What caused the crash?

Woods was driving shortly after 7 a.m. PT in Rancho Palos Verdes when the SUV he was using crossed a median and went across two lanes of road before hitting a curb, hitting a tree and landing on its side off the roadway in the brush. No other vehicles were involved.

Woods needed to be extricated from his vehicle by a rescue crew using a pry bar and an ax, according to LA County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.

Woods was driving downhill on a winding road in an area known as a trouble spot for speeding and accidents, Villanueva and Sheriff's Deputy Carlos Gonzalez said. The road has seen 13 accidents since last January.

"We do not know his estimated speed at this time," Villanueva said Wednesday. He said there is no information to believe Woods may have been distracted or on his phone.

Weather was not a factor in the accident, officials said in a Tuesday news conference. There was no evidence of impairment, but the crash is under investigation, officials said.

Villanueva said the crash was an accident, so Woods is not facing any potential criminal charges.

"We don't contemplate any charges whatsoever in this crash," Villanueva said Wednesday in a Facebook Live chat. "This remains an accident. An accident is not a crime. They do happen, unfortunately."

What's the status of his injuries?

Woods was taken by ambulance to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in serious condition with non-life-threatening injuries, according to the LA County Fire Department.

"He was able to communicate, and he was conscious," Villanueva said.

Gonzalez, the first responder at the scene, said he kept Woods talking until the fire crews arrived to free him.

After being taken to the hospital, he underwent a lengthy emergency surgery on his lower right leg and ankle at the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a statement on his Twitter account said.

The leg fractures were "comminuted," meaning the bone was broken into more than two parts, and "open," meaning the broken bone was exposed to open air, creating risk of an infection, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Anish Mahajan said in the statement.

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, Mahajan said.

The decision to surgically release the covering of the muscle suggests Woods may have been at risk of "compartment syndrome," an issue common after crush injuries when pressure builds up to such a dangerous level that it can cut off blood flow.

Having seen the damage at the crash site, Villanueva said it was "nothing short of a miracle" that Woods was alive. Woods was wearing a seat belt, which may have saved his life.

What type of car was Woods driving?

Woods was driving a 2021 Genesis SUV. The front end of the vehicle was destroyed and the airbags were deployed, Villanueva said.

"Thankfully the interior was more or less intact, which kind of gave him the cushion to survive what otherwise would have been a fatal crash," Villanueva said.

The Genesis was provided to Woods as a courtesy car by the sponsor of the golf tournament he hosted over the weekend.

Woods hosted the Genesis Invitational at Riviera Country Club in Pacific Palisades over the weekend, and some proceeds went to his foundation.

Woods didn't play because of a recent back surgery.

Mark Del Rosso, president and CEO of Genesis Motor North America, said Tuesday that he was "heartbroken" to hear of the accident.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family," Rosso said.

a tree with snow on the side of the road: Woods' car came to rest on the driver's side in brush on the side of the road. © PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images Woods' car came to rest on the driver's side in brush on the side of the road.
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