In a case with echoes of Tiger Woods, but with more tragic consequences, Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Chris Henry has died after falling from a pickup truck during a domestic dispute with his fiancée.
According to the Dayton Daily News, Henry got into a fight last night with fiancée Loleini Tonga while they were visiting her parents and Charlotte. She got into a pickup truck and tried to drive away; he jumped in the back and, at some point, fell out. The Daily News reports that "he was found lying in the roadway a half-mile from the house with a serious head injury."
Unsubstantiated reports of Henry's death are flying around the Internet, but the latest news from Fox Sports is that he is on life support and his situation is "dire." A reporter from Fox News in Cincinnati Tweeted just a few minutes ago, "The latest we know on Chris Henry: he is on life support. Our sister station in Charlotte says he took a turn for the worse overnight." TMZ is now reporting that he is dead.
As Tom Archdeacon of the Dayton Daily News points out, Henry's death is especially sad because he recently seems to be turning his life and career around. Archdeacon writes,
In April of 2008, he was finally released by the Bengals after his fifth arrest in 28 months. His rap sheet was gaudier than his stat sheet: drug charges, gun charges, DUI, drinking with underage girls in a hotel room.
But the Bengals took Henry back a few months later, and until a forearm injury that left him out for the season, he seemed to be doing better. According to the AP's Mike Cranston, he "credited his fiancee for helping him straighten out his life." He once said,
She's been a big help. She's been right here with me and going through things and helping out on my side. We have the kids, and she has my back with everything I've needed.
Charlotte police said no charges would be filed Wednesday in relation to the domestic dispute on the accident, and it's not clear whether Tonga was responsible for Henry's fall from the truck. But at least one source says police are beginning a homicide investigation, apparently assuming Henry won't make it. And fans are angry. ShawnieceQB tweets, "Chris Henry was FOUND in the road after falling out of the bed of a truck...does that mean the fiancee left him there?" And soodanym says, "Why isn't Chris Henry's fiance under arrest? She wasn't even on the scene when they found dude!"
It's not clear from the AP coverage whether Tonga was in fact on the scene. What is clear is that Henry is the second male athlete in a month to be injured in the course of a domestic dispute. And while Tiger Woods's injuries were relatively minor, it appears Henry's were fatal. It's too early to blame Tonga for Henry's death — but if anything good comes of these two incidents, maybe it will be that male victims of domestic violence feel more able to come forward, since two very high-profile men have shown that domestic disputes can harm anyone.
Agent: Bengals WR Henry "Battling For Life" [AP]
Chris Henry - NFL's Turn-Around Story Becomes Tragic Tale [Dayton Daily News]