It’s remarkable and sad how quickly a bad decision can change lives forever.
Consider how the future looks now for former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III, who faces multiple felony charges following his involvement in a fiery car crash recently that left a 23-year-old woman and her dog dead, and Ruggs and his girlfriend injured, according to court records.
One minute, Ruggs was playing football in the NFL as a first-round draft choice, and 12th pick from Alabama. Shortly after the crash he was released by the Raiders and booked into Clark County Jail.
Ruggs, 22, made good decisions on the football field or he wouldn’t have been playing in the NFL. But if what prosecutors say is true, he made a horrible decision to drive 156-mph with a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit in Nevada.
Ruggs, who was released on $150,000 bail, was being monitored electronically after giving up his passport and could face a maximum of 46 years in prison.
It’s hard to comprehend how many lives are changed as a result of drinking and driving, and frankly, this wouldn’t have been a national story if Ruggs hadn’t been playing in the NFL.
It’s sobering to consider that one alcohol-related death occurs every 52 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Drunk driving causes more than 10,000 deaths every year, about one-third of all traffic-related deaths.
These deaths were all preventable.
Seven years ago, the Los Angeles Daily News ran a story headlined “Sports fails the test when it comes to athletes and drunk driving.”
Mark Whicker wrote: “P.J. Tucker is a forward for the Phoenix Suns who was spotted weaving into the wrong lane on Scottsdale Road, 30 minutes after midnight on May 10. His blood-alcohol content was .222.
That is known as “super-extreme DUI” in Arizona, and Tucker went to jail for three days, followed by 11 days of home detention.
The blow was softened by the fact that the Suns, after the arrest, gave him a three-year contract extension worth $16.5 million.”
Commissioner Adam Silver brought down the Nerf hammer, suspending Tucker for, uh, three games out of 82, when the 2014-15 season began.
Tucker was spared a harsh penalty only because no one was hurt.
A sign across the highway from Hillsboro Community Hospital on Highway 56 is a reminder of how a drunk driver changes the lives of many. The victim was a classmate of mine at Hillsboro High School.
The sign, which includes a picture of a cross, reads:
Friend – Wife – Mother – Daughter – Sister
Killed by a Drunk Driver
The sign also includes a reference to Romans 8:28-39 in the Bible. Romans 8:28 is familiar to many Christ-followers. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
That doesn’t mean all things are good, of course. The verse is easily misunderstood or not appreciated in the midst of a tragedy. BibleRef.com states: “Crucially, though, this promise is limited to ‘those who love God,’ and ‘those who are called according to His purpose.’ In short, that means the promise is for Christians: for saved believers, who have placed their trust in Jesus Christ. No matter our feelings on a given day, loving God is part of what it means to live in Christ. That’s who we are. Each of us is also called to fulfill God’s purposes.
In other words, this verse cannot rightly be applied to non-Christians. Those who reject God do not express their love for God by coming to Him through faith in Jesus. For those who die without Christ, things will not have worked out for the better; they will have rejected the opportunity to take advantage of this promise.”
If you, like me, don’t drink, much less drink and drive, alcohol isn’t the sole cause of accidents. About 400 fatal crashes happen each year as a direct result of texting and driving. That number increases to over 30,000 when you consider distracted driving as a whole, according to the NHTSA.
Everyone who drives a motor vehicle should never forget that bad choices often lead to bad endings.