The part of Hawthorne Boulevard where Tiger Woods lost control of his SUV Tuesday and was seriously injured in a rollover crash is a steep, winding road described by locals and officials as a “hotspot” for car crashes.
At the intersection where Woods crashed, Hawthorne Boulevard forms the border of Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills Estates — part of the Palos Verdes Peninsula known for tony gated neighborhoods, cliffside vistas and winding seaside roads.
The intersection is a well-trafficked area, on the east side of Palos Verdes Peninsula High School and just north of the Promenade on the Peninsula shopping center.
One man who lives in the area told KTLA Tuesday that the stretch of road is dangerous if you’re not careful.
“The one thing that all of us in this area recognize is we go through brakes a lot,” he said. “Because of this grade and the speed you pick up, you typically have to ride your brakes as you’re coming down.”
It’s easy to hit 65 mph if you’re traveling a typical speed and not riding your brakes, he said. Meanwhile, the road curves, “and if you’re not paying attention it’s easy to miss that turn, and/or overcorrect and find yourself in a bad situation.”
Los Angeles County sheriff’s Deputy Carlos Gonzalez, who is investigating the crash and was among the first on scene, described the stretch of road as “one of our trouble spots.”
“Our locals in Rancho Palos Verdes and Rolling Hills Estates know that it’s a hotspot for traffic collisions as well as speed,” he said in a news briefing Tuesday afternoon.
The speed limit in the area is 45 mph, but Gonzalez said he’ll sometimes catch people going 80 mph.
“People see a nice stretch of road, and maybe they’re not watching the speedometer, or maybe they’re in a hurry,” he said.
What exactly caused Woods to crash his 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV around 7:15 a.m. remains under investigation. However, intoxication is not believed to have played a role.
Sheriff Alex Villanueva said there were no skid marks or signs of braking at the cash site, and he apparently first crashed into the center median where a “Welcome to Rolling Hills Estates” sign sits.
From there, Woods’ vehicle cut across the other side of the road before hitting a curb then a tree, rolling over several times in the process and coming to rest several hundred feet from the center divider in vegetation along the west side of the road, Villaneuva said.
Woods was traveling downhill on a curve at a “relatively greater speed than normal,” the sheriff said.
Villanueva also acknowledged the area “has a high frequency of accidents” because it slopes downhill while also curving.
While investigators were responding to the scene Tuesday, a second collision occurred between two “looky-loos,” according to the sheriff. There were no injuries as a result of that crash, he said.
Woods, meanwhile, was seriously injured and had to be pried from his SUV with a Halligan bar and an axe, fire officials said.
The SUV’s front end was destroyed, but Villanueva said the interior cabin was “more or less intact, which kind of gave him the cushion to survive what otherwise would have been a fatal crash.”
An ambulance took Woods to the Harbor-UCLA Medical Center. The golfer’s manager said he suffered multiple leg injuries and was undergoing surgery.
Gonzalez said the fact that Woods was wearing a seat belt and the nature of his SUV likely contributed to his survival.
“I will say that it’s very fortunate that Mr. Woods was able to come out of this alive,” Gonzalez said.
When Gonzalez was directed to the SUV by a neighbor who’d called 911, he said Woods was seated in the driver’s seat and able to communicate, but not able to stand on his own. Because Woods was calm and lucid, the deputy says he determined it would be safest to wait for fire officials to extricate the golf star.
The Lomita sheriff’s station is continuing to investigate the crash and expects to have a detailed report prepared in several weeks.