Henry Ruggs' lawyers blame firefighters' slow response for Tina Tintor's death
Lawyers for former Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, who is accused of killing 23-year-old Tina Tintor and her dog Max on November 2 in a crash involving his speeding sports car while driving drunk with his girlfriend, argued in court documents that Las Vegas firefighters were slow to extinguish the blaze in the victim's car following the collision.
Ruggs, 22, was allegedly driving at up to 156 mph at the time of the crash. However, in a recent filing, Ruggs' attorneys David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld suggested citing an unnamed witness that firefighters' slow response time may have played a part in Tintor's death. The unnamed witness who lived near the crash, claimed to have arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and claimed that firefighters took 20 minutes to extinguish Tintor's RAV4 that burst into flames due to the impact from Ruggs' sports car. "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," the court filing read.
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'There were no delays in response or in the attack on the fire'
According to the defense court papers, the fire in Tintor's vehicle was "limited to one exterior area," when the firefighters first arrived at the scene. As a result, the first responders were "in a position to extinguish the vehicle fire while it was in its infancy stages and failed to do so," Ruggs' team alleged. This argument was countered by Clark County spokesman Erik Pappa who said that the blaze was impossible to survive, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
"There were no delays in response or in the attack on the fire"' Pappa said. "The captain on the scene reported that the vehicle was fully involved in fire upon arrival and the passenger compartment was not survivable for anyone inside." He further added that there was one specific area of the car that continuously rekindled, causing trouble for the firefighters, saying, "fire crews continuously extinguished this area as it reignited."
'The fire just grew so fast'
One witness at the scene told KTNV that Tintor was still alive following the crash. The fire was apparently not that big when he and his friend struggled to get her out of the car as she screamed. "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."
Rodriguez also added that nothing they did worked as they struggled for 10 minutes to free Tintor. "Everything we tried just wasn't working. The fire just grew so fast," he said. "She was actually still alive. You could hear her breathing. She had her seat belt on and I was trying to cut that away. Trying to grab them by their shoulders and pull them out but that wasn't working. They were pinned. The seat belt was on, the airbags were in the way and the door was jammed."
A judge set a December 16 preliminary hearing of evidence. It would be determined then whether Ruggs will face trial in state court. Additional felony charges of driving under the influence causing substantial injury and misdemeanor gun possession have been filed against Ruggs. He has already been charged last week with DUI causing death and felony reckless driving.