Seriously Injured Tiger Woods 'Responsive' in Hospital as He Begins Long Road to Recovery With Shattered Leg

Sheriff's deputies at the site of Tiger Woods car crash in Los Angeles County.
Sheriff's deputies at the scene of Tiger Woods' car crash.Getty

Tiger Woods begins a long road to recovery after shattering his leg in several places during a one-car traffic crash. Meanwhile, criticism mounted over wall-to-wall news coverage of the golf star's crash as deaths mounted in coronavirus pandemic.

Tiger Woods was awake and responsive Wednesday after many hours of surgery for shattered bones in his leg after rolling his car in a one-vehicle crash in Los Angeles County, which left him seriously injured, authorities said.

The 15-time major champion and winner of a record-tying 82 PGA Tour tournaments was conscious and in shock when he was pulled from the wreckage of an SUV Tuesday morning, according to first responders. He was taken by ambulance to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, a noted trauma center, where he underwent emergency surgery to treat extensive injuries that included a shattered leg, ankle and foot bones, according to a hospital official.

Dr. Anish Mahajan, chief medical officer for the medical center, posted to Twitter Wednesday that Woods sustained multiple fractures that had broken the skin on his right leg. Surgeons used a series of screws and pins to stabilize his foot and ankle. 

Woods also suffered muscle and tissue trauma that required surgeons to release "the covering of the muscles to relieve pressure due to swelling," Mahajan said.

The crash generated wall-to-wall news coverage, with camera crews hovering in helicopters and swarming the accident site. The hours-long live footage, including video of the mangled vehicle being loaded onto a tow truck and being driven along area streets, prompted increasing criticism on social media.

Woods, 45, has been tabloid fodder for more than a decade, beginning with a 2010 sex scandal that generated nonstop international coverage, and an incident seven years later in which the celebrity athlete was arrested for DUI in Florida after officers found him asleep at the wheel of his Mercedes with the engine running.  

His car had sustained fresh damage, police said, and Woods did not know where he was. Toxicologist reports later showed he had five drugs in his system, including Vicodin, Dilaudid, Xanax, and Ambien, a sleeping aid.

Woods pleaded guilty to reckless driving and agreed to enter a diversion program. He had been self-medicating after undergoing his fourth spinal surgery. “Recently, I had been trying on my own to treat my back pain and a sleep disorder, including insomnia, but I realize now it was a mistake to do this without medical assistance. I am continuing to work with my doctors, and they feel I've made significant progress," he said in a statement at the time.

Woods' Tuesday crash followed his fifth spinal surgery, this one as a precursor to a possible Masters Tournament entry. Los Angeles County Sheriff Sheriff Alex Villanueva told reporters Tuesday that first responders saw no evidence of drug use and did not smell alcohol at the scene.

The golfer was apparently driving at a high rate of speed down a steep grade that has a "high frequency of accidents," Villanueva said.

According to Villanueva, the SUV hit a center divider, destroyed a road sign and rolled many times. The vehicle had also crossed two lanes of opposing traffic and hit a curb and a tree before coming to rest several hundred feet from the curb.

Woods was conscious at the scene and was trying to extricate himself from the destroyed car, firefighters said. He appeared calm, despite his extensive injuries, most likely because he was in shock, they said.

Initial information from the sheriff's office said the jaws of life had been used to remove Woods from the SUV, but Villanueva clarified that a prying tool and an ax were used. 

Woods was pulled from the wreckage through the shattered windshield, and placed on a stretcher, officials said. He had been wearing a seatbelt and the driver's air bag had apparently deployed. 

"I will say that it's very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive," said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who was one of the first to arrive at the crash site.