Woods blames self; 911 call released
WINDERMERE, Fla. -- Tiger Woods finally gave his side of the story Sunday -- on his Web site, not to police -- and took the blame for an "embarrassing" car crash that gave him cuts, bruises and public scrutiny like never before.
His statement failed to clear up any questions about the middle-of-the-night accident outside his Isleworth estate in which his wife told police she used a golf club to smash the back windows of the Cadillac SUV to help him out.
"This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me," Woods said on his Web site. "I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again."
The statement was posted around 2 p.m. Sunday, about an hour after Woods' attorney told the Florida Highway Patrol that for the third straight day golf's No. 1 player would be unavailable to talk to troopers.
This time, the meeting was not rescheduled.
Woods' Statement On Crash
"As you all know, I had a single-car accident earlier this week, and sustained some injuries. I have some cuts, bruising and right now I'm pretty sore.
This situation is my fault, and it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again.
This is a private matter and I want to keep it that way. Although I understand there is curiosity, the many false, unfounded and malicious rumors that are currently circulating about my family and me are irresponsible.
The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false.
This incident has been stressful and very difficult for Elin, our family and me. I appreciate all the concern and well wishes that we have received. But, I would also ask for some understanding that my family and I deserve some privacy no matter how intrusive some people can be.
-- Source: tigerwoods.com
Even so, Sgt. Kim Montes of FHP said troopers went to Woods' $2.4 million estate anyway, only for attorney Mark NeJame to turn them away. The attorney gave troopers Woods' driver's license, registration and insurance as required by law for such accidents.
Woods said the crash was a private matter, and he intended to keep it that way. NeJame said neither he nor Woods will make comments to anybody -- including the authorities.
"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. "The only person responsible for the accident is me. My wife, Elin, acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble. She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false."
Woods is scheduled to compete at his Chevron World Challenge, which starts Thursday in Thousand Oaks, Calif., although his tournament director did not know Woods' status for the tournament -- whether he would play or even attend.
Even with his first public comments on the 2:25 a.m. Friday accident, Woods left several questions.
• Where he was going at that time of the night?
• How did he lose control of his SUV at such a speed that the air bags didn't deploy?
• Why were both rear windows of the Cadillac Escalade smashed?
• If it was a careless mistake, why not speak to state troopers trying to wrap the investigation?
"We have been informed by the Florida Highway Patrol that further discussion with them is both voluntary and optional," Mark Steinberg, his agent at IMG, said in an e-mail. "Although Tiger realizes that there is a great deal of public curiosity, it has been conveyed to FHP that he simply has nothing more to add and wishes to protect the privacy of his family."
Woods' wife turned troopers away from their home in the exclusive gated community outside Orlando on Friday, the day of the accident, because she said he was sleeping. Steinberg called troopers en route to Woods' house on Saturday and postponed the meeting until Sunday.
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"We're just continuing our traffic crash investigation," Montes said. "If we have somebody who we feel is pertinent to the investigation, then we will interview them."
She said the 911 caller was interviewed Saturday, and investigators might speak with other people who were at the scene as well.
The FHP released the 911 call from an unidentified neighbor on Sunday.
"I have a neighbor, he hit the tree. And we came out here just to see what was going on. I see him and he's laying down," the neighbor told dispatchers without ever identifying the victim as Woods.
Asked if the victim was unconscious, the neighbor replied, "Yes."
Part of the call was inaudible because of a bad connection. At one point, the voice of a woman is heard yelling, "What happened!"
"We're just trying to get the police here right now," the neighbor says to the woman. "We don't know what happened. We're figuring that out right now. I'm on the phone with the police right now."
According to the FHP accident report, Woods had just pulled out of his driveway when he struck a fire hydrant and then a tree. Woods said he had cuts, bruising and "right now I'm a little sore."
Montes said the Woods' car was towed for "safekeeping," and authorities have already documented where the damage is on the vehicle and the point of impact.
The accident came two days after the National Enquirer published a story alleging that Woods had been seeing a New York night club hostess, and that they recently were together in Melbourne, where Woods competed in the Australian Masters.
The woman, Rachel Uchitel, denied having an affair with Woods when contacted by The Associated Press.
Los Angeles attorney Gloria Allred confirmed she was representing Uchitel when she was reached by the AP on Sunday.
"She is with me in L.A.," Allred said later in an e-mail to the AP. "We plan to meet and then we'll decide on the next step, which we do not plan to announce to the press."
Uchitel arrived at Los Angeles International Airport late Sunday morning, where she was met by Allred and escorted out of the baggage claim area and into a black car. Uchitel did not speak to reporters except to ask that she be left alone.
Aside from occasional criticism of his temper inside the ropes, Woods has kept himself out of the news beyond his sport. In an October posting on his Facebook account, Woods wrote, "I'm asked why people don't often see me and Elin in gossip magazines or tabloids. I think we've avoided a lot of media attention because we're kind of boring. ..."
Nike, one of Woods' primary sponsors, told CNBC in a statement that "Tiger and his family have Nike's full support. We respect Tiger's request for privacy and our thoughts are with Tiger and his family at this time."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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