Prosecutor: Ruggs driving over 150 mph before fatal crash
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III was driving at more than 150 mph with a blood-alcohol content twice Nevada’s legal limit before his sports car slammed into the rear of a vehicle that burned, killing a 23-year-old woman, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
The Raiders released Ruggs late Tuesday, just hours after the crash, his hospitalization and his booking into a Las Vegas jail. He had his initial court appearance Wednesday on felony charges of driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death and reckless driving that could get him up to 26 years in state prison if he is convicted.
Ruggs, 22, appearing with his attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, was not asked to enter a plea to the charges, pending the formal filing of charges by Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson.
The name of the Las Vegas woman who died in the wrecked and burned Toyota Rav4 with her dog was not immediately made public.
Las Vegas police have identified Ruggs’ passenger as Kiara Je’nai Kilgo-Washington, 22, of Las Vegas.
Ruggs and Kilgo-Washington were hospitalized with unspecified injuries that police said did not appear life-threatening after the Chevrolet Corvette he was driving slammed into the Toyota at about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday.
Ruggs owns a $1.1 million home not far from where the crash occurred, according to property records.
Prosecutor Eric Bauman said air bag computer records showed the Corvette decelerated from 156 mph (251 kph) to 127 mph (204 kph) before it struck the Toyota.
Judge Joe M. Bonaventure said moments later he could not recall a speed that high involved in a crash case since he became a judge. Nevertheless, the judge rejected Bauman’s request for $1 million bail and set bail, at Chesnoff’s request, at $150,000 with strict conditions, including home confinement, electronic monitoring, no alcohol, no driving and surrender of Ruggs’ passport.
Bauman said Ruggs’ blood-alcohol level was 0.16%. Police said previously in a statement that Ruggs “showed signs of impairment.”
Bauman also said a loaded firearm was found on the floor of the car.
Wolfson said outside court he may file a weapon charge and expects to file a second DUI charge against Ruggs based on the serious arm injuries that he said Kilgo-Washington suffered.
The judge set Ruggs’ next court appearance for Nov. 10.
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 20 years in state prison. The possible sentence for reckless driving is one to six years in prison, with probation available.
The Raiders didn’t wait for courts to act, sending out a brief statement Tuesday night announcing Ruggs’ release.
The team and the league had issued statements earlier in the day saying officials were aware of the crash, offering condolences to the family of the woman who died and promising to gather facts about what the NFL called “this devastating incident.”
Ruggs was supposed to be a cornerstone for the Raiders. He was picked 12th overall in the 2020 draft after three years at Alabama, including helping the Crimson Tide win the NCAA championship as a freshman in 2017.
Ruggs was emerging as a star this season with 24 catches for a team-high 469 yards and two touchdowns. As a rookie in 2020, he had 26 catches for 452 yards and two touchdowns.
Ruggs’ crash occurred three weeks after Jon Gruden abruptly resigned as Raiders coach over emails he sent before being hired by the team in 2018. Gruden stepped down after The New York Times reported that the emails had racist, homophobic and misogynistic comments.
The AFC West-leading Raiders (5-2) have won two in a row under interim coach Rich Bisaccia and now return to the field this week without their leading receiver in yardage. They’ll visit the New York Giants (2-6) on Sunday.
The crash also came less than a year after Raiders running back Josh Jacobs crashed a sports car into a tunnel wall on a roadway at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas.
Jacobs received several stitches for a cut forehead and was initially charged with driving under the influence, but that charge was dropped a week later because Jacobs’ blood-alcohol level did not reach the 0.08% level needed to pursue the case. Chesnoff and Schonfeld represented Jacobs in that case, which was closed in March after Jacobs mentored at a Boys & Girls Club and paid a $500 fine to resolve a failure to exercise due care traffic violation.