Local News

Man involved in UNC reporter's 2003 death convicted of DWI

Posted October 24, 2013
Updated October 25, 2013

— The mother of a sports broadcaster killed a decade ago in a hit-and-run says the man she holds responsible for her son's death isn't living up to a promise he made to her.

After Rabah Samara was acquitted in November 2004 of felony and misdemeanor hit-and-run charges in the death of Stephen Gates, Pat Gates said he promised her he would live a worthwhile life, but he was found guilty Thursday of driving while impaired.

Stephen Gates, a sports reporter at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, was changing a tire on the shoulder of Interstate 40 in Orange County on Oct. 4, 2003, when he was hit and killed.

Samara was a passenger in the Cadillac Escalade, but when driver Emily Caveness stopped, he got behind the wheel and drove off. He said at the time that he thought they had hit a deer, although prosecutors said two truck drivers had told him that they had hit Gates.

"Somebody could have called 911. Someone could have made sure Stephen wasn't left behind to die," Pat Gates said.

After that trial, she said, she elicited the promise from Samara.

"I said to him, 'OK, you've gotten off on this, but make your life worthy of the one that was taken,' and he said, 'I will,'" she said.

Since then, Samara has been charged twice with DWI. He was found not guilty in 2006, and the second case brought Pat Gates and her husband, George Gates, to a Wake County courtroom on Thursday.

A Cary police officer testified that Samara was driving drunk in March and failed several field sobriety tests.

Pat Gates, mother of UNC sports broadcaster Stephen Gates Victim's mother says man has broken promise

"It's like going back into a room that you would rather keep closed," George Gates said of attending Samara's latest trial.

"I think my presence alone will remind him of what he promised. I know it will," Pat Gates said.

Samara was sentenced to 60 days in jail, suspended to 12 months on probation. He also was ordered to surrender his driver's license and perform 20 hours of community service.

Pat Gates tearfully said the punishment was too light.

"I don't consider this keeping that promise," she said.

Caveness pleaded guilty to misdemeanor failure to report an accident as part of a plea deal with prosecutors. She was sentenced to 18 months on probation and completed 200 hours of community service and has had no other charges since then.


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  • djofraleigh Oct 25, 2013

    "He didn't kill anyone. He was asleep when the hit happened, he was just part of the run. -- The Return of Roy

    Good point Roy, pointing out facts to keep the story straight. He was the RUN, tho, and lied about it. The man just doesn't present any integrity by his actions. The repeating drunk in trouble is not the story but that he was "forgiven after promise to the parent" and that seems to have been a false promise. Repeated drunk drinking, assaults happen all the time. Too bad prohibition wasn't something that could work...alcohol ruined a lot of lives as well as taking many. Alcohol should pay for the damage it does, just like cigarettes should.

  • djofraleigh Oct 25, 2013

    So much for the wisdom of forgiveness in changing some people. What is obvious is that this man is a narcissistic type. He isn't sorry except that he keeps getting caught, and we all know that there are HUNDREDS of times he has NOT been caught. Nothing is convincing that these drunken driving cases are just after celebrations.

  • The Return of Roy Oct 25, 2013

    Are you kidding me? This is the punishment (or lack thereof) for drunk driving and killing people...not just once either. Sickening.

    He didn't kill anyone. He was asleep when the hit happened, he was just part of the run.

  • monkeyboy Oct 25, 2013

    "The mother of a sports broadcaster killed a decade ago in a hit-and-run says the man she holds responsible for her son's death isn't living up to a promise he made to her."

    not living up to a promise to her? well good sweet lord, let's throw that bum under the jail!! she's the only thing that matters, not the law!

    some people just have delusions of grandeur, i guess.

  • Jinmyname Oct 25, 2013

    these laws are a joke... They aren't tough enough. I can't help but wonder how many innocent people have to be killed before they change. I think there needs to be a two strikes and your out.

  • gingerlynn Oct 25, 2013

    I used to follow Stephen Gates and email him back and forth about sports stuff. Such a sad tragedy. And apparently no good to come from it. I can't believe its been ten years. My heart goes out to his mother.

  • Slappy171 Oct 25, 2013

    SHAME on you judge and prosecutor!!! This man has already KILLED someone and he continues to get behind the wheel drunk. This is total slap in the face to the Gates to see this loser get off so lightly AGAIN. What is it going to take to give this guy some serious punishment? How much money is he paying to get off so lightly?? I bet if he killed one of your family members the tables would be turned....SHAME SHAME SHAME!!

  • pappybigtuna1 Oct 25, 2013

    will it require another vehicle murder to stop this guy. All I can say don't hurt one of mine, justice will be swift

  • tres1p Oct 25, 2013

    That sentence is EXACTLY WHY people still drive while impaired..THERE IS NO REAL CONSEQUENCES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • WakeForestLiving Oct 25, 2013

    The 60 days is only suspended and if he stays out of trouble for 12 months, he'll never see the inside of a jail.