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NFL speedster admits drunkenly driving Corvette at 156 mph and killing woman in fiery Las Vegas crash, guaranteeing prison time

Tina Tintor, Henry Ruggs III

Tina Tintor (picture via obituary), Henry Ruggs III (LVMPD)

A football star formerly known for his unmatched speed on the field will go to prison for driving drunk at 156 mph in Las Vegas and slamming into a 23-year-old driver, causing Tina Tintor and her dog Max to burn to death in the horrific wreck nearly two years ago.

Henry Ruggs III, now 24, admitted Wednesday that on Nov. 2, 2021, during his second season in the NFL, he got behind the wheel of his Corvette with a BAC of .16 (twice the legal limit), drove 156 mph in a 45 mph zone, killed Tintor and her dog, and injured himself and his girlfriend.

According to the Clark County District Attorney’s Office, Ruggs’ guilty plea was to the “most serious charge he faced” under the law: DUI resulting in death. Because of that, Ruggs will certainly serve time in prison and may serve up to 10 years, DA Steve Wolfson said in a statement.

“This outcome accomplished our three most important goals: (1) convict Henry Ruggs of the strictest charge allowed by Nevada law for drunk driving; (2) send Henry Ruggs to prison; and (3) eliminate his ability to appeal his conviction and prison sentence,” the DA said.

DA Wolfson said that Tina Tintor’s family were the “most important people in this process” and that the DA’s office was in repeated contact with them before resolving the case in this way.

“On November 02, 2021, Henry Ruggs, while under the influence of alcohol and driving more than three times the speed limit, crashed his car into the back of a vehicle driven by Tina Tintor, who tragically lost her life as a result of Ruggs’ actions. Ruggs and his passenger were transported to the hospital; therefore, standard field sobriety tests (FSTs) — tests frequently administered during a DUI investigation to determine if someone is under the influence of alcohol — could not be conducted on Ruggs,” the prosecution began describing the facts of the incident. “On scene, law enforcement officers applied for a telephonic search warrant to obtain a sample of Ruggs’ blood (i.e., they called a judge and received permission to have a nurse draw blood from Ruggs to determine if he had alcohol in his system).”

The guilty plea to the top charge was particularly important, prosecutors emphasized, because proving that charge in court hinged “virtually entirely on the result of the blood draw” — and that blood draw was being challenged by Ruggs’ high-profile defense lawyers. The DA’s office said that if the defense motion to suppress the blood draw had succeeded, it could have meant that Ruggs would serve little to no time behind bars [emphasis ours]:

In May 2022, defense lawyers filed a Motion to Suppress Results of Evidentiary Blood Sample Testing. The defense argued there was insufficient probable cause for a judge to approve the blood draw. This presented a potential legal impediment to the prosecution: If the result of the blood draw was suppressed, there was virtually no other evidence to prove Ruggs was under the influence. Had the suppression motion been granted — and there was a strong likelihood because no FSTs were performed, and there was no information given to the judge that Ruggs had bloodshot/watery eyes, smelled of alcohol, or had been drinking prior to the crash — the DUI Death charge would have been dismissed. The only significant charge remaining would have been Felony Reckless Driving, which is probationable and carries 1 – 6 years in prison.

Instead, the current resolution of the case ensures Ruggs will spend a minimum of 3 years and as many as 10 years in prison. In addition, Ruggs cannot appeal his sentence and he reportedly cannot use the number of days he spent under pre-trial house arrest to reduce the minimum punishment.

“I recognize this outcome is not sufficient to punish Ruggs for the loss the Tintor family has suffered, but there was a legitimate concern that a court would have suppressed the result of the blood draw. We would have lost the felony DUI charge. We couldn’t take that chance,” DA Wolfson said. “This resolution sends Ruggs to prison for up to 10 years on a felony DUI conviction and brings closure to the Tintor family.”

After her death, a law firm for Tina Tintor’s family said that she was driving home from the dog park on that “fateful night.”

“Tina was the love of her parents’ lives, and also an adored granddaughter, sister, and niece in a very tight-knit family. As a fellow Las Vegan, her absence is felt immensely by the Las Vegas community,” the statement said. “Ruggs ended the life of a beautiful, thriving young woman, and caused an immeasurable amount of grief, pain, and sorrow for the Tintor family. This type of pain is only felt when an innocent loved one is unexpectedly taken in such a horrific way.”

Ruggs played wide receiver at the University of Alabama before he was drafted in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Las Vegas Raiders. The defendant was released after the fatal DUI crash.

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.