What is there to say about what Henry Ruggs III did that reveals some kind of insight, or provides some kind of value? I’ve been struggling with that for the last couple of days. It seems obvious to declare that drunk driving is wrong and deadly, but if it were really so obvious, Tina Tintor would be alive.
Ruggs, who played for the Raiders, was driving in Las Vegas with his girlfriend Kiara Kilgo-Washington in his Corvette early Tuesday morning when he rammed into the back of Tintor’s RAV4. According to police reports, Ruggs’s vehicle was traveling at 156 mph before the crash, and when the airbags deployed, its speed was 127 mph. Ruggs’s blood alcohol level was reportedly 0.16, twice the legal limit. Even though Ruggs wasn’t wearing a seat belt, he survived, as did Washington; wearing a neck brace and in a wheelchair, he appeared in court on Wednesday. He faces charges of DUI resulting in death and reckless driving.
Rio Lacanlale’s Las Vegas Review-Journal article, which is primarily reconstructed from police reports, is indelible once you read it. Tintor, a 23-year-old who lived with her family only a couple of miles from the 22-year-old Ruggs, did not die on impact. She and her dog were stuck inside the wrecked car as it burst into flames. Bystanders, including nearby security guard Alexander Hart, tried and failed to rescue them. From Lacanlale’s article:
The impact sent the RAV4 hurtling down the northbound lanes of Rainbow Boulevard for more than 570 feet before it came to a rest just south of Spring Valley Parkway, the arrest report states. The crumpled two-door Corvette spun out for nearly 520 feet before stopping near a block wall.
As the vehicle fire grew near the intersection, a Dodge Durango pulled over to help, according to the reports. The occupants of the Dodge were soon joined by [Hart].
In total, the records show, at least three bystanders had stopped at the intersection to help Tintor.
When Hart arrived at the crash site, according to the arrest report, he heard screams coming from the RAV4. The driver was still alive, he told police, but she was pinned inside the SUV. None of the bystanders could pull her out.
Tina Tintor is gone. Her family released a short statement, calling her “the light of her parents’ life.” Bojana Filipovic, a childhood friend whom Tintor had dropped off shortly before her death, described her as brilliant, intelligent, and extremely charismatic:
“We always go to parks and walk her dogs and just hang out and have a good time,” Filipovic said. “And just think about our future. We were just talking about going to Serbia together. She was just about to get her citizenship and everything was going swell.”FOX5 Vegas
In one video of the aftermath, Washington can be seen holding up Ruggs on the ground as the two of them sob. She calls for someone to help. By this point, Tintor’s car is fully engulfed in flames, and responders are beginning to extinguish it. There’s a feeling of helplessness that sits heavy as the video progresses.
In that video, Ruggs is overwhelmed with what has happened, which is understandable. Whether it’s because of his blood alcohol level, head injury, or adrenaline, he is sitting in a moment that he cannot fully comprehend, a moment that arrived so suddenly after a decision to drive over 110 mph above the speed limit, in his state. That decision ended a human’s life. However the legal process plays out, that fact is permanent. There are two tragedies here. They are distinct and incomparable, but they are there.