Former Las Vegas Raiders player Henry Ruggs III’s defense team have suggested in a new court filing that firefighters’ slow response could be partly to blame for the death of a woman in a fiery car crash.
A witness claimed firefighters were slow to extinguish a RAV4 that burst into flames after Ruggs slammed his Corvette Stingray into it, defense attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld wrote in their filing, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Prosecutors allege Ruggs was speeding at up to 156 miles per hour and had a blood alcohol level of .161, twice Nevada’s legal limit, at the time of the crash. He had been partying at a swank golf venue in the MGM Grand earlier that night.
The driver of the RAV4, 23-year-old Tina Tintor, did not die immediately and could be heard screaming as she tried to free herself, according to witnesses.
“I thought for sure we were going to be able to do something. The fire was so small at the time,” Tony Rodriguez told KTNV. “It just grew fast. Really fast. There was one person with a fire extinguisher, a county worker. That didn’t work. It wasn’t enough. It was just so fast.”
Tintor and her 3-year-old golden retriever, Max, died after the car burst into flames.
In their court filing, Ruggs’ lawyers wrote that “firemen did not attempt to extinguish the fire at Ms. Tintor’s vehicle for approximately 20 minutes at which time the entire vehicle was engulfed in flames.”
Firefighters were “in a position to extinguish the vehicle fire while it was in its infancy stages and failed to do so,” they alleged.
County spokesperson Erik Pappa slammed the suggestion, saying in a statement to the Review Journal that there had been “no delays in response or in the attack on the fire,” and that “the vehicle was fully involved in fire upon [first responders’] arrival.”
“There was a continuous rekindle in one area of the car that gave the crews some trouble, which is not unusual in vehicle fires,” Pappa said. “The captain stated there was some material that was dripping, possibly from a fuel line that was reigniting in the passenger-side, rear wheel area. The fire crews continuously extinguished this area as it reignited.”
Ruggs’ lawyers are seeking a court order to obtain Clark County Fire Department records about the Nov. 2 crash. Chesnoff characterized the filing as part of their efforts to investigate the crash. They’re requesting all records related to the crash, including videos, photos, log reports, dispatch calls and text messages.
Ruggs, a 22-year-old former first-round pick, was formally charged on Wednesday with four felonies and a misdemeanor charge for possession of a firearm while intoxicated. If convicted on all counts, a prosecutor said, he could face up to 50 years in prison.
Tintor, who came to the U.S. as a toddler when her family escaped war-torn Serbia, was on her way home after hanging out with a friend and taking her dog to a park when she was killed.
“Tina’s tragic loss has devastated her family beyond a grief they could ever comprehend,” an attorney for her family previously said in a statement. “Family was everything to Tina, and she was the light of her parents’ life. Tina lived in Las Vegas since she was a baby. She loved her 3-year-old Golden Retriever, Max, who passed alongside her Tuesday morning.”
Her funeral was scheduled for Thursday.