The young driver killed in the crash involving NFL star Henry Ruggs III was close to getting her US citizenship after escaping war-torn Serbia, according to her grieving friends and family.
Tina Tintor, 23, died in a fireball alongside her golden retriever, Max, early Tuesday after her Toyota RAV4 was allegedly struck by Ruggs, who’d been speeding in his Chevrolet Corvette Stingray at 156 mph while drunk, according to prosecutors.
“Tina’s tragic loss has devastated her family beyond a grief they could ever comprehend,” her family said in a statement issued by Las Vegas attorney Farhan Naqvi.
“Family was everything to Tina, and she was the light of her parents’ life,” the statement said, saying she also “loved” the 3-year-old pooch who died alongside her.
The Serbian-born woman had “lived in Las Vegas since she was a baby,” the attorney said, which would coincide with the exodus of refugees fleeing the Yugoslav Wars.
In the hours before her death, Tintor was with her close childhood friend and fellow Serbian Bojana Filipovic — walking Max as they usually did late at night, the pal told Fox 5 Vegas.
“She was just about to get her citizenship, and everything was going swell,” Filipovic said.
“We always go to parks and walk her dogs and just hang out and have a good time. And just think about our future,” she continued, while adding that they were also “talking about going to Serbia together.”
“She’d give you a shoulder to lean on, and she’ll always slap sense into you if you do something wrong,” she said.
“I wish I got to say goodbye, and I’ll see you in the next life.”
Filipovic told KLAS-TV that Tintor’s mother called her Tuesday morning, crying and asking if she knew where Tintor was.
“She was supposed to wake up at 7 a.m. to run errands, but she never got home with her dog,” Filipovic said.
Tintor’s SUV was shown engulfed in flames in a video in which Ruggs, 22, was being comforted on the ground by his longtime girlfriend Kiara Kilgo-Washington following the crash just after 3:30 a.m.
Onlookers say they tried to rescue Tintor but were thwarted by heat, flames and smoke.
Tony Rodriguez, a motorist who stopped to help, told KTNV-TV that he tried to cut Tintor’s seat belt and grab her by the shoulders, while another onlooker attempted to use a fire extinguisher.
“Everything we tried just wasn’t working,” he said. “The seat belt was on, the air bags were in the way and the door was jammed.”
Ruggs and his girlfriend, who goes by Rudy Washington, were also injured. Both were hospitalized before Ruggs was booked later Tuesday into the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas.
The Raiders fired Ruggs from the team late Tuesday, hours before he appeared before a Las Vegas judge who set bail at $150,000 pending the filing of felony charges of driving under the influence of alcohol resulting in death and reckless driving. Ruggs was still in a neck brace as he was pushed in a wheelchair into court.
Ruggs later posted bond and was freed to house arrest and electronic monitoring. His next court date is Nov. 10.
Washington, 23, suffered a serious arm injury that will lead to a second charge of DUI causing substantial bodily injury for her boyfriend, Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson said.
A weapon charge may also be filed after a loaded handgun was found on the floor of the wrecked Corvette, the prosecutor said.
With Post wires
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