By KEN RITTER Associated Press
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Las Vegas Raiders released Henry Ruggs III just hours before the promising young receiver faced an initial court appearance on multiple felony charges after a fiery predawn vehicle crash that left a woman dead and Ruggs and his female passenger injured.
The 22-year-old Ruggs and his passenger were hospitalized with unspecified injuries that police said did not appear life-threatening after the Chevrolet Corvette he was driving slammed at high speed into the rear of a Toyota Rav4 on a busy thoroughfare in a residential area several miles west of the Las Vegas Strip about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday.
The Toyota burst into flames and the driver and her dog died, police said. The woman was not immediately identified.
Ruggs “showed signs of impairment,” police said in a statement that did not identify the woman who died, the injuries that Ruggs or his passenger received or name Ruggs’ passenger, who remained hospitalized.
Police are prohibited by federal privacy law from disclosing medical information, said Officer Larry Hadfield, a department spokesman.
Ruggs faces felony charges of driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death and reckless driving, court records show. Ruggs was released from a hospital and taken to jail ahead of an initial court appearance scheduled on Wednesday.
Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson did not immediately respond to messages about the charges.
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.
Ruggs’ attorneys, David Chesnoff and Richard Schonfeld, said they are investigating the crash on behalf of their client “and ask everyone to reserve judgment until all the facts are gathered.”
Chesnoff declined additional comment after Ruggs was released from University Medical Center and booked into the Clark County Detention Center.
The Raiders didn’t wait for the courts to act, sending out a brief statement Tuesday night announcing Ruggs’ release. The Raiders had issued a statement earlier in the day saying the team was aware of the crash, “devastated by the loss of life,” and “in the process of gathering information.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy issued a statement saying, “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim of this horrific tragedy. We will continue to gather facts and monitor the matter under our policies, but our thoughts at this time are with those impacted by this devastating incident.”
Ruggs was supposed to be a cornerstone for the Raiders. He was picked 12th overall in the 2020 draft after a productive three-year career at Alabama, including helping the Crimson Tide win the NCAA championship as a freshman in 2017.
Ruggs was one of the fastest receivers in the game and was following a long line of speedster wideouts on the Raiders following players like Art Powell, Warren Wells and Cliff Branch.
After an unimpressive rookie season, 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.
The 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.
AP Sports Writers Josh Dubow and Bernie Wilson contributed.
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