Tiger attempts to squash rumors in Web site statement
By Sara K. Clarke
The Orlando Sentinel
ORLANDO — Tiger Woods declined investigators’ requests for information about his early-morning crash for the third straight day on Sunday, but put a statement on his Web site that said the accident “is a private matter and I want to keep it that way.”
On the same day troopers released the 911 call made by one of Woods’ neighbors, Woods hired prominent local lawyer Mark NeJame, who contacted the Florida Highway Patrol on his behalf to cancel a Sunday afternoon interview with investigators.
Sgt. Kim Montes, a spokeswoman for FHP, said troopers went out to the house anyway in an attempt to find out what happened in the pre-dawn hours Friday, when Woods crashed his 2009 Cadillac Escalade into a fire hydrant and a neighbor’s tree while leaving his mansion in Isleworth.
But troopers were met at the driveway by NeJame, who said Woods was unavailable. Under Florida law, Woods is not obligated to speak to investigators; he only has to provide his drivers license, registration and proof of insurance, which NeJame gave to investigators. FHP did not reschedule the interview. NeJame did not comment Sunday.
“We want to give him (Woods) the opportunity to tell his side of the story,” Montes said. “It’s unusual that we wouldn’t get a statement in a minor crash, but that is his right if he chooses to do so.”
Although Woods declined to speak with law enforcement, he did break his public silence about the crash by posting a statement on his Web site, tigerwoods.com. He claimed responsibility for the accident and denounced rumors that have surfaced about the incident.
Woods said the single-car crash was his fault and that his wife, Elin Nordegren Woods, acted courageously and was the first person to help him.
There has been widespread speculation in the news media and among bloggers on what precipitated the accident, but no official account has emerged. Much of the speculation stems from a report by The National Enquirer last week that the world’s No. 1 golfer was having an affair with former New York night club hostess Rachel Uchitel.
“Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible,” Woods said in his online statement.
In the 911 call, the unidentified caller tells a dispatcher, “I have a neighbor; he hit the tree.”
The caller said he couldn’t tell whether Woods was breathing. After dispatchers asked the caller if he was near Woods, the caller said, “I’m with him right now.” When they asked again how he was breathing, the line went dead.
“His phone must have gone out of range,” one dispatcher said.
Woods suffered facial cuts when he crashed into a fire hydrant and a neighbor’s tree while leaving his mansion in southwest Orange County about 2:25 a.m. Friday, said Windermere police, who initially responded to the call.
Troopers said they did not have probable cause of impairment, so they did not give Woods a breath test, nor was his blood or urine tested.
His car sustained damage to the front right and left, troopers said. The left and right rear side passenger windows were also broken out.
On Friday, Windermere officials said Woods’ wife told them she had smashed a window of the SUV with a golf club and pulled her husband out. Windermere police said that when they arrived, Woods was lying on the ground, dazed and bleeding. The crash knocked the golfer unconscious for about six minutes, according the Orange County Sheriff’s Office.
Troopers said the crash remains under investigation and charges are pending.