One Phone Call Can Save Lives

Derek McLeod, Contributer

**trigger warning**

At 3:40 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 2, officials responded to a call that there had been a major accident on Rainbow Boulevard in Las Vegas, Nevada. A Chevy Corvette, operated by NFL wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, slammed into the rear of a stopped Toyota RAV4. The Toyota caught fire with 23-year-old Tina Tintor and her dog inside. Tintor and her dog died in the accident. Ruggs, 23, was charged with a DUI resulting in death, and reckless driving resulting in death or serious bodily harm. It became evident that this was a foolish decision from a young man who has lost it all.

The very next day, additional details of the accident surfaced, and to be fully honest, I don’t know what I was expecting. After all, this was a tragic accident. An innocent woman and her dog lost their lives because of it. But the information released after the accident was so shocking that it’s been almost impossible for me to wrap my head around. When police administered a breathalyzer test two hours after the crash, Ruggs’ blood alcohol level was two times over the legal limit. According to Eric Bauman, the chief deputy district attorney for Clark County, Nevada, Ruggs’ Corvette reached a high speed of 156 mph in a 45 mph lane. His airbags deployed at 127 mph. There was a loaded gun in the car at the time of the crash, earning Ruggs another charge because he was over the legal limit to possess a firearm.

According to eyewitnesses, Tinton was trapped inside of her vehicle, screaming for help before the Toyota burst into flames. The Las Vegas Raiders released Ruggs from his contract the same day. These details are grim. They hardly seem like real numbers. It hurts to type them out; a Corvette, operated by a man with a blood-alcohol level of .161, going 156 mph in a 45 mph speed limit zone. It’s ludicrous. It’s almost impossible to fathom. It’s a tragedy that could have been avoided in this day and age where Uber and other driving services are available at your fingertips.

If you aren’t angry enough yet, the NFL has a Player Transportation Link service that provides any current or former athlete a sober car ride so that situations like this do not happen. One phone call could have saved Ruggs’ career, but more importantly, could have saved Tinton and her dog from that horrific accident. Just like that, we have another instance of an innocent person taken from the world because of the selfish actions of a drunk person who thinks they can properly operate a vehicle. It’s absurd to me and it should be equally absurd to you.

Despite all the numbers that have been released, the most important number I will stress is one: all it takes is one phone call, one text message, one FaceTime. One of those, whether it’s a ride sharing service or someone who cares about you, you will get home safe. You will not ruin your life, and you will not take someone else’s.

On a lower scale, I know there’s a tendency for college students and young people altogether, to sometimes believe that they’re invincible. There’s this idea that incidents like what happened in Las Vegas at 4 in the morning wouldn’t happen to them. That there’s not a chance in the world that something like this would happen to them. They’re too careful. The fact of the matter is that it’s simply not true. If you’re out somewhere and you feel like you aren’t sober enough to efficiently drive a vehicle, make that one phone call. It will be the best decision you ever make. For yourself, for others, make that call. I’ve known people who don’t make that one call, and the thoughts stay with you long after the event. Reading the details of Tinton’s death on a random Tuesday morning rehashed those same memories. Please, do not think you are above having someone pick you up. Make that phone call, get home safe, and stay safe.