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Sport 10 years after Tiger Woods' crash: Untold stories of some connected to Woods' scandal

21:20  26 november  2019
21:20  26 november  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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In May, on a rainy evening in Springdale, Ark., a 2009 black Cadillac Escalade with an infamous history headed south on Carlton Street.

A 1997 Chevrolet Blazer headed east on the perpendicular street, McCray Avenue, and both cars approached the intersection.

When the driver of the Escalade failed to yield the right of way, the vehicles collided, and it wasn’t the first accident involving the Escalade. That came about a decade earlier, when the SUV was driven by the most famous golfer on the planet.

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Tiger Woods was behind the wheel of that 2009 Escalade on Nov. 27, 2009 when at about 2:30 a.m., outside his former mansion in Windermere, Fla., he collided with a row of hedges and hit a fire hydrant. The vehicle finally came to rest after hitting a tree.

Less than two days earlier, the National Enquirer published a story alleging that Woods was having an affair with Rachel Uchitel, then a New York nightclub hostess. The car accident and its murky circumstances — paramedics found Woods lying in the road, snoring and without shoes or socks — coincided with Woods’ personal crash.

a black truck sitting on top of a car: A view of the 2009 Escalade Tiger Woods drove when he collided with a row of hedges and a fire hydrant outside his Florida home on Nov. 27, 2009. © Florida Highway Patrol A view of the 2009 Escalade Tiger Woods drove when he collided with a row of hedges and a fire hydrant outside his Florida home on Nov. 27, 2009.

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The crash happened a week after Woods added yet another tournament victory to his glorious career. He won the Australian Masters in Melbourne, but reporters from the National Enquirer were on his tail. The American celebrity magazine suspected Woods had a secret girlfriend, Rachel Uchitel, in tow at

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Elin Nordegren looking at the camera: In this June 11, 2009 file photo, Elin Nordegren and then-husband Tiger Woods attend Game 4 of the NBA Finals. © David J. Phillip, AP In this June 11, 2009 file photo, Elin Nordegren and then-husband Tiger Woods attend Game 4 of the NBA Finals.

A full-fledged sex scandal ensued, exposing years of infidelity and rocking Woods’ life.

He lost his wife.

He lost sponsorships.

He lost his dignity.

With 14 major championships at the time of the car accident, Woods, then 33, still looked like a solid bet to break Jack Nicklaus’ all-time record of 18 majors. But with medical problems developing during Woods’ personal scandal, it took more than a decade for him to win another major — the 2019 Masters, arguably the most meaningful of his career.

While Woods’ free fall became a public spectacle, others connected to his demise have suffered in relative obscurity.

Mindy Lawton, one of more than a dozen women identified as former mistresses of Woods, was involved in a fatal vehicular accident.

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Jamie Jungers, who claimed to have had an 18-month affair with Woods, attempted to use the notoriety during her legal problems.

The trooper who handled the first phase of the investigation into Woods’ accident for the Florida State Highway Patrol faced his own investigation — for shooting an unarmed suspect in the scalp.

The neighbors who wrapped Woods with blankets and put a pillow under his head at the scene of the SUV accident suffered indignities they apparently thought Woods would help spare them.

And then there is the 2009 Cadillac Escalade.

Here are their stories.

Mindy Lawton

On the list of Woods’ alleged ex-mistresses, which included porn stars, escorts and lingerie models, Mindy Lawton stood apart. At the time she met the golfer, Lawton told reporters, she was an $8-an-hour waitress at Perkins restaurant, near Woods’ former mansion in Windermere.

Two weeks after Woods crashed his Escalade, according to documents obtained by USA TODAY Sports, Lawton, then 33, signed a contract designed to cash in on her alleged 14-month affair with Woods that she told reporters ended in 2007.

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The deal called for Lawton to be represented by a Florida attorney, Glenn Reid, who would receive 33% of each $1 million generated by Lawton from media-related opportunities, according to a copy of the contract.

The big payday never came. Lawton went from scandal curiosity to convicted felon.

In January 2011, she pleaded guilty to DUI with serious bodily injury, a third-degree felony. She was sentenced to five years probation and served one year in county jail. The following year, Lawton was unable to find employment, out of money and two weeks from being homeless, according to court records.

The court terminated Lawton’s probation early and allowed her to return to live with her mother in New York, court records show. Then came another crash.

On the morning of June 21, 2015, Lawton was riding on an ATV with her boyfriend, Jamie Kennedy. Kennedy lost control after the ATV hit large rocks and trees, and the two were ejected from the vehicle, according to published reports.

Kennedy, 45, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Lawton, then 38, was airlifted to a hospital. She survived after undisclosed medical treatment.

In Kennedy’s obituary, Lawton was described as Kennedy’s “companion.’’ Her Facebook page includes photos of her with Kennedy and indicates Lawton, 43, still lives in Ogdensburg, N.Y., a town of 11,128 where she grew up.

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The Perkins restaurant where Lawton said Woods regularly ordered the egg-white omelet with broccoli has shut down. And the deal between Lawton and Reid, the Florida attorney, went sour.

Five months after the contract was signed, Reid sued, claiming Lawton cooperated for a Vanity Fair magazine article without consulting him.

Lawton did not respond to voicemails and text messages from USA TODAY Sports seeking comment.

Jamie Jungers

Two weeks after Woods’ accident, Jamie Jungers became the first alleged mistress of his to be interviewed on live TV.

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Wearing a fur-lined coat on the set of NBC's Today show, Jungers, then 26, said her affair with Woods began in 2005 after the two met in Las Vegas.

The affair ended a year and a half later after she asked Woods for help with financial problems and he declined, Jungers said. But her notoriety continued over the past decade.

In August 2011, when Jungers was being questioned by Las Vegas police who suspected she had been driving under the influence, she told a police officer she was “a celebrity, related to Tiger Woods.’’

Jungers made “several references’’ that she was a celebrity and wanted a warning instead of being booked at jail, according to the incident report. She was booked and convicted of DUI.

And booked again in Las Vegas in September 2015 on charges of possession of narcotics paraphernalia and driving on a revoked license.

And booked again in Las Vegas in November 2018 as a fugitive from another state on warrant. Her disappearance was featured on an episode of “Dog the Bounty Hunter,’’ when former bail bondsman Duane “Dog’’ Chapman helped hunt down Jungers in Las Vegas and handed her over to police.

On camera, Jungers said she was struggling with an addiction to heroin — she was on probation in Kansas for heroin possession. She made another cameo on “Dog the Bounty Hunter’’ about three months later, reporting she was successfully completing rehab at KISA Life Recovery, a treatment center in Sedan, Kan.

Jungers, now 36, told USA TODAY Sports she “graduated” from KISA Life Recovery and now works for the treatment center.

Joshua Evans

Evans pulled up to the scene of the crash at 3:01 a.m. on Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. Accustomed to working DUI investigations during his year on the job, the 28-year-old trooper found himself handling the initial stage of investigating the high-profile incident.

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On the accident report, Evans noted the estimated damage ($3,300 for the hedges, fire hydrant and tree, and another $8,000 for the Escalade), diagrammed the winding route Woods took (down his driveway and over a concrete curb, onto grass median and swerving back across the concrete curb, onto a grass shoulder before plowing into the hedges, fire hydrant and tree on his neighbors' property) and the estimated speed (30 mph in a 25-mph zone).

It also was Evans who went to Health Central Hospital in nearby Ocoee, where Woods had been treated and released, and sought a medical sample of Woods’ blood. He suspected the golfer might have been impaired at the time of the crash.

But hospital workers turned Evans away, and the state’s attorney’s office denied Evans’ request for a subpoena to get a sample of Woods’ blood taken the night of the crash.

Almost four years later, it was Evans who was under investigation.

a couple of lawn chairs sitting on the side of a road: A new fire hydrant was installed in front of Tiger Woods' home in the Isleworth community in Windermere, Florida. © John Raoux, AP A new fire hydrant was installed in front of Tiger Woods' home in the Isleworth community in Windermere, Florida.

In November 2013, Evans was involved in a high-speed chase. It ended with Evans and the man suspected of driving under the influence struggling at the front door of the home where the driver lived with his parents.

Evans pulled out his Glock 37 and fired seven bullets into the front door, according to court documents. One of the bullets struck the man in the head but did not cause life-threatening injuries, according to court documents.

A grand jury cleared Evans in the incident.

But an internal investigation found Evans violated the Florida Highway Patrol’s policy on excessive force, and he was suspended for 40 hours without pay, said public affairs officer Kim Montes.

Evans declined to comment for this story, according to Montes, who said Evans is still employed by the highway patrol and remains highly regarded for his work.

Montes said Evans made more than 100 DUI arrests in both 2012 and 2013 and also has distinguished himself as a member of the mobile field force that handles civil disturbances, as a felony officer for drug interdiction and the patrol’s hit-and-run crash investigator.

The neighbors

Jarius Adams and his sister, Kimberly Harris, told investigators they discovered Woods lying on the pavement in front of their parents’ house and Elin Nordegren, then Woods’ wife, standing over the golfer.

“Can you please help me?’’ Adams told investigators Nordegren asked him.

First, Adams called 911.

“I need an ambulance immediately,’’ Adams can be heard saying on a recording of the 911 call. “I have someone down in front of my house.’’

a view of a house: An aerial view of Tiger Woods' house, left, in Windermere, Florida, on Nov. 27, 2009. © Gary W. Green, AP An aerial view of Tiger Woods' house, left, in Windermere, Florida, on Nov. 27, 2009.

Then Adams and his sister wrapped Woods in a blanket and put a pillow under his head. But in the days that followed, things got less neighborly.

“They all wanted Tiger to pay them is what they really wanted, for helping him,’’ said Bill Sharpe, a Florida attorney who represented the family that owned the house next door to Woods’ former mansion. “That was the real issue.’’

After Woods’ car accident, Sharpe said, he got a call from Jerome Adams Jr., the brother of Jarius Adams and Harris. Their father owned the house next to Woods.

Sharpe said he had represented Jerome Adams Jr. in the late 1990s on charges of passing worthless bank checks when Adams was attending Florida A&M University in Tallahassee.

Six months after the accident, Jerome Adams Jr. launched a website with a pay-per-view video trashing Woods. Adams charged $3.99 for videos on which, according to a 2010 report in the Orlando Sentinel, said things like, “He's a jerk,” and "The person that you know is just a crafted image.”

On the surface, Sharpe said, it probably seemed odd that members of a family that lived in Isleworth, the exclusive gated subdivision, were charging $3.99 for anti-Tiger videos.

"They had fallen on hard times,’’ Sharpe said.

Jerome Adams Jr.’s home had been in foreclosure, court records show. The house his father owned next to Woods’ home in Isleworth also had been in foreclosure, court records show.

Professional golfer Bubba Watson ended up buying Woods’ former home — the seven-bedroom, eight-bathroom, 7,940-square foot estate, where Woods once lived with Elin and their daughter, Sam, and son, Charlie. But Watson has since moved.

The former neighbors are long gone too. Jerome Adams Sr., then a retired obstetrician/gynecologist, sold the family home in 2011 for $1.8 million.

Jerome Adams Sr. and his wife moved into a home that cost less than $300,000, and he died in 2014. Family members did not respond to voicemails or text messages left by USA TODAY Sports.

The Escalade

The SUV, which can be tracked by its VIN number, rolled off the General Motors assembly line in 2008. GM still owned the vehicle during the time of Woods’ accident. From there things get murky, although CARFAX offers some tidbits.

The Escalade has made its way from Michigan to Florida, and from Tennessee to Missouri, and finally to Arkansas, with its sixth owner.

On May 9, on a rainy evening in Springdale, Ark., Alicia Galvan, 38, was driving the Escalade when it collided with a Chevy Blazer. Galvan was cited for failure to yield the right of way and for driving without a driver’s license or insurance.

The report shows the owner of the Escalade was Refujio Perez-B of Fayetteville, and he listed the same home address as the driver.

Maria Curiel, co-owner of the Fayetteville property, told USA TODAY Sports she would look into the matter.

The next day, Curiel reported by text message, “I contacted the manager of the property, but she does not want to release any information. I am sorry.’’

Like Tiger Woods, there are a lot more miles on the Escalade than there were a decade ago.

The last official odometer for the Escalade, according to a CARFAX report, shows 158,052 miles — and still rolling along a decade after that fateful crash.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 10 years after Tiger Woods' crash: Untold stories of some connected to Woods' scandal

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