Updated November 3, 2021 - 12:01 am
Former Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs was expected to face a judge Wednesday morning after being jailed on felony charges in connection with a fiery crash that left a 23-year-old woman dead.
Ruggs, 22, was injured in the Tuesday morning crash but was released from a hospital in the afternoon and booked into the Clark County Detention Center on charges of DUI resulting in death and reckless driving. He is scheduled to appear at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Las Vegas Justice Court.
Soon after the crash, Ruggs retained high-profile Las Vegas attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, who released the following statement: “On behalf of our client Henry Ruggs III we are conducting our own investigation as of this writing and ask everyone to reserve judgment until all the facts are gathered.”
Shortly before 9 p.m., the Raiders Twitter account posted that Ruggs had been released from the team.
The Metropolitan Police Department did not release specific details regarding the DUI charge but said Ruggs “showed signs of impairment” at the site of the pre-dawn crash. According to state law, the DUI charge carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison upon conviction while the reckless driving charge could send Ruggs to prison for up to six years.
Just before 3:40 a.m., according to Metro, the football player’s green 2020 Chevrolet Corvette was speeding north on Rainbow Boulevard, about 5 miles west of the Las Vegas Strip. Ruggs’ girlfriend, Kiara Kilgo-Washington, who also goes by the name Rudy Washington, was in the car with him.
As the Corvette approached the intersection of Spring Valley Parkway in a residential area, police said, it veered into the right lane and slammed into the back of a 2013 Toyota RAV4. At impact, the SUV burst into flames, trapping the driver inside.
The woman driver, described by Metro as a Las Vegas resident, was pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The Clark County coroner’s office is expected to release the woman’s name after her relatives have been notified.
Police said Ruggs and his girlfriend, who share a young daughter, were treated for “serious” injuries at University Medical Center before Ruggs was transferred to the county jail in downtown Las Vegas. According to Metro records, Ruggs arrived at the jail shortly after 2:10 p.m. and remained in custody as of Tuesday evening.
A video posted Monday night to the football player’s public Snapchat account showed that he was at Topgolf Las Vegas hours before the crash. Authorities have not said where Ruggs and his girlfriend were headed at the time of the crash, but according to county property records, they were a few miles away from the football player’s $1.1 million home when the crash occurred.
A ‘loud boom’
“It is an ongoing investigation that is at the very preliminary stages,” Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson told the Review-Journal.
In separate statements released Tuesday, both the Raiders organization and the NFL extended their condolences to the family of the woman who died in the crash.
“We are in the process of gathering information and will have no further comment at this time,” the Raiders added, while the NFL said it “will continue to gather facts and monitor the matter” under its policies.
Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo told reporters on Tuesday that “the Raiders corporation tried to get some information” from him about the crash.
“I told them no,” Lombardo said.
Michael Leone, a longtime resident of the area where the crash occurred, was in bed when he heard a “loud boom.” Turning to his wife in bed, Leone instructed, “Give me my phone. There’s an accident.”
He called 911 at 3:38 a.m., he said. Outside, it was still dark.
While on the phone with a dispatcher, Leone went to his backyard wall, which has a view overseeing Rainbow Boulevard. Leone, who has lived on Willow Creek Avenue for more than 20 years, said that same wall had been rebuilt multiple times throughout the years after other car crashes.
When he peered over the wall, he said, a vehicle engulfed in flames came into view, and as the fire spread, he heard a “popping” noise that “sounded like gunshots.” Meanwhile, he also could hear loud music coming from the Corvette and a female voice screaming for help.
After the crash
For more than 12 hours after the crash, the usually busy Rainbow Boulevard remained grimly quiet as Metro investigators worked, tracing the pavement with neon pink and green paint to mark where the cars collided, how far they traveled after impact and where each vehicle came to a stop.
As they worked, the charred shell of the Toyota rested at the intersection while the promising young football player’s mangled Corvette sat near Leone’s backyard wall.
Traffic at the intersection would not begin flowing again until about 4 p.m. When it did, nearby residents began walking along the sidewalk, surveying a crash scene that stretched hundreds of feet. Smashed glass and random car parts littered the crash site. A fire extinguisher used during the failed recovery efforts lay on the side of the road.
At sundown, two candles burned at the intersection. One of them was placed by Andrew Bennett, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety, who remarked at the crash site that fatal and critical-injury crashes seem like “almost a daily occurrence at this point.” Tuesday’s crash marked the 319th traffic fatality on Nevada roads this year.
Known for his world-class speed and ability to stretch defenses, Ruggs was drafted 12th overall out of Alabama last year. After an up-and-down rookie season in which he dealt with multiple injuries and the transition from college to the NFL, he blossomed into a legitimate playmaker this year.
Ruggs has 24 catches for 469 yards and two touchdowns through seven games and established himself as a big-time downfield threat for Raiders quarterback Derek Carr.
The team is scheduled to practice Wednesday in preparation for a trip to New Jersey this weekend to play the New York Giants.
Tuesday’s crash comes almost 11 months to the day after Ruggs’ teammate, Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, was accused of DUI after a single-car crash near McCarran International Airport. Attorneys Chesnoff and Schonfeld also represented the running back.
Clark County prosecutors dismissed the case little more than a week later after a blood test indicated that Jacobs’ blood-alcohol content was below the legal limit for drivers in Nevada within two hours of the crash.
Contact Rio Lacanlale at firstname.lastname@example.org, Ricardo Torres-Cortez at email@example.com and Vincent Bonsignore at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @riolacanlale, @rickytwrites and @VinnyBonsignore on Twitter. Review-Journal staff writers Jeff German, Glenn Puit, Blake Apgar, Mick Akers and Sabrina Schnur contributed to this report.