Raiders’ Henry Ruggs III Charged in Fatal Car Crash

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Alexis Black, Contributor

After a fatal crash, Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was formally charged with four felonies and a misdemeanor. A Nevada prosecutor said he could face 50 years or more in prison if convicted on all counts.

Ruggs, 22, from the University of Alabama, was taken by the Raiders with the 12th pick in the 2020 NFL draft. With 24 catches for 469 yards and two touchdown passes, Rugg’s average of 19.5 yards per catch is 2nd in the NFL. He was drafted for his speed, as he ran a 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the NFL draft combine.

On Nov. 2, at around 3:40 am, Ruggs’ Chevrolet Corvette Stingray, going 156 mph, slammed into the Toyota of 23-year-old Tina Tintor, killing her and her golden retriever. The impact ignited the Toyota’s fuel tank, causing it to burst into flames. 

A Las Vegas police report notes that Kiara Kilgo-Washington, Rugg’s girlfriend, was a passenger in his car; said the couple had been at Topgolf Las Vegas earlier that night before heading to a friend’s house. She also stated that they ordered alcoholic drinks, of which she had two, but she was unsure of how many drinks Ruggs consumed.

Ruggs BAC was 0.16, twice of Nevada’s legal limit. 

Ruggs is currently on house arrest. He was ordered by the judge to be tested for alcohol four times a day, along with surrendering his passport to the defense attorney, and is prohibited from driving.

Probation is not an option in Nevada for a conviction on a charge of DUI causing death, which carries a possible sentence of two to twenty years in state prison along with a fine of $2,000-$5,000.

He will also be charged with possession of a gun while under the influence of alcohol. This is a misdemeanor punishable in Nevada by a maximum of six months in prison or up to $1,000 in fines. The Las Vegas Raiders released Ruggs on Nov. 2.

“This crash shows that no matter who you are and what you do for a living, you will still be held accountable for your actions,” sophomore chemistry student Kai Ward said. “There is no reason that anyone should get behind the wheel while intoxicated.”

In response to athlete’s driving while under the influence, the NFLPA began offering the Player Transportation Link Service in 2010. This system allowed players and NFL alumni to call a 1-800 number to be picked up anywhere, no matter the time of day. 

Unfortunately for Ruggs, he didn’t have access to the PTLS. As ride services like Uber and Lyft began to increase in popularity, the NFLPA decided to end the service in 2019.

“I don’t think it was a good idea. NFLPA initially put the ride service in place because they knew what could happen without it, and the Ruggs case is an example of that,” junior business administration student Malique Hawkins said. “Lyft and Uber are good options, but they typically aren’t available after a certain time, resulting in limited options for the athletes.”

Rugg’s is the fourth active NFL player within the last 25 years involved in a drunk-driving accident that resulted in death. Other accidents include Leonard Little (1998), Donte Stallworth (2009), and Josh Brent (2014).

Emotions were at an all-time high at the Raiders facility while the team processed their now former teammate’s accident, all while trying to prepare for their game against the New York Giants that occurred on Nov. 7. 

“A person lost their life yesterday morning and we think it’s important to keep a focus on that as we talk about this tragic event,” interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said. “We’re deeply saddened for everyone affected, especially the victim’s family. That being said, we love Henry Ruggs and want him to know that. His terrible lapse in judgment of the most horrific kind.”

After coming back from their bye week, the Raiders lost to the New York Giants 23-16. 

Over the past few months, the team has encountered many setbacks. Their former coach Jon Gruden was forced to resign, and two recent first-round draft picks, Ruggs and Damon Arnette released due to off-the-field issues. Despite everything happening, the team continues the season with a record of 5-4 and has no plans to let these issues halt their potential.