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Doctor suspended after being charged in DWI death

Posted September 13, 2009
Updated September 23, 2009

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— A Raleigh plastic surgeon was suspended from his job at WakeMed Sunday after being charged with driving while impaired in a wreck that killed a ballerina last week.

Raleigh police said that Raymond Dwight Cook, 42, of 10516 Beckridge Lane, was driving a Mercedes 90 mph in a 45 mph zone Friday when he crashed into the back of a Hyundai driven by Elena Bright Shapiro, 20, at Lead Mine and Strickland roads.

Paramedics took Shapiro to WakeMed, where she died. Cook was also treated at WakeMed for minor injuries.

He was charged with death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired, failure to reduce speed and careless and reckless driving, authorities said. He was released from jail after posting a $50,000 secured bond.

Cook is employed by UNC Hospitals and is contracted to practice with WakeMed, the hospital said.

“The entire WakeMed family would like to pass along their condolences to the family of Elena Shapiro," WakeMed spokeswoman Heather Monackey said. "We are saddened that this tragic event has taken such a young and beautiful life. Dr. Cook has been suspended for the time being to allow for further investigation in the case."

'A true tragedy'

Shapiro, of Winston-Salem, was training with the Carolina Ballet, based in Raleigh, and had been dancing since she was 10, according to the group's Web site.

"She was a very young dancer. She had her whole life ahead of her. She had all the equipment to be a great dancer," said Robert Weiss, Carolina Ballet's artistic director. "We don't know what she would have done. That's the tragedy, that she never had a chance to find out what she could achieve."

The dancers still plan to perform Swan Lake this Thursday to open the season.

"In her memory, we're going to give these performances that she was going to be a part of," Weiss said. "It's a true tragedy, and there's no way to make it better, but what we do in our profession is we bring joy to a lot of people ... and we're going to go ahead and try to still do that."

Shapiro's funeral services will be held at noon Tuesday in Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University.


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  • 9136 Sep 14, 2009

    Though the woman was killed, he himself could had been killed. People should have the knowledge that they are endangering their lives and no one is perfect at everything. If he was perfect, then he wouldn't had not been able to go to jail anyway. Despite being suspended and thrown in jail, there shouldn't been any bond whatsoever. His job is suppose to save not kill and he didn't show that for the terrible actions he displayed. Never drink and drive.

  • The2ruthHurts Sep 14, 2009

    I am surprised to read so many posts condemning the doctor. I would figure someone would have made an excuse for him by now. I wonder if this would have been the same outcome if it had been that UNC student who died weeks ago somewhere near Asheville,NC if he had killed some innocent motorist on the side of the road prior to encountering police?

  • countrydiva Sep 14, 2009

    A beautiful life was lost here on earth, however God gained a beautiful angel. Was the Dr. in the wrong? "Thou shall not kill" But he didn't intend on this tragic outcome. However, who are we to judge this man? The bible also teaches us not to judge. No one sin is greater than another. God is always the greater power. I feel sorry for her family, but hope they take comfort in knowing she is in a much better place. God calls us home when he is ready for us. It sometimes is tragic other times by sickness. I pray for the Dr. and his family also. God is the only one who should judge this man. To the Dr.- Ask for forgiveness and it shalt be given by our gracious Lord. I hope both families will turn to their faith during this time of pain.

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Sep 14, 2009

    Dr Cook is a danger to society. Driving 90 mph in a 45 mph zone while under the influence of alcohol is endangering society.

    For murdering the young lady he should have not been allowed bond and force to stay in jail instead of going home.

    Once again, if you have money and influence and can afford the best attorney's you get of crimes that you commit.

    There is two systems of justice in this country. One for the rich and one for the rest of us.

  • packaging1 Sep 14, 2009

    Call the District Attorney's office and let him know that sweetheart deals for wealthy constituents who commit murder is UNACCEPTABLE!!!

    Colon Willoughby, Jr.
    Wake County District Attorney
    (919) 792-5000

  • GWALLY Sep 14, 2009

    ..."Also,let's not forget that most people can smoke cigarettes and still drive in a responsible manner.SpunkyGRITS.."

    However smoking is much more "politically incorrect" than drinking!!!! Most find absolutely nothing wrong with the consumption of alcohol or it's effects...however to smoke a cigarette well that's just down right murderous!!!!

  • OSX Sep 14, 2009

    Wow, a rear end collision so hard that it killed. He must have hit her doing 90 mph. I wonder how different this would be if she was driving an H2 Hummer. Maybe he would be the one dead. Mercedes makes some tough cars so I don't know.

    Absolutely sickening it is. I think my daughters first car is going to be a Z71. Phooeey with fuel economy.

  • mom2threecld Sep 14, 2009

    i'd like to know why he only got a 50,000 bond and the woman that ran over the lady at the gas station got 101,000 bond. both should have been remanded to custody until the trial

  • SpunkyGrits The One and Only Sep 14, 2009

    Obviously, it seems the taxes are not high enough on the alcohol beverages. Its always cigarettes that gets the higher taxes.

    Also,let's not forget that most people can smoke cigarettes and still drive in a responsible manner.

  • dfreeman3 Sep 14, 2009