Local News

Mom wants man involved in son's hit-and-run death to remember decade-old promise

Posted July 15, 2014

— Heartbreak, frustration and disappointment are just some of the feelings Pat Gates still feels more than 10 years after her son Stephen was killed by a drunken driver on an Orange County highway.

The 27-year-old reporter for the Tar Heel Sports Network had pulled off Interstate 40 to fix a flat tire on Oct. 24, 2003, when a Cadillac Escalade hit him and knocked him more than 150 feet.

Stephen Gates died almost instantly, but the Escalade continued on its way. The 20-year-old driver pulled over, frantic, and passenger Rabah Samara switched seats with her and continued driving.

Samara, who admitted to drinking heavily that night, was later charged for his involvement but was found not guilty in a November 2004 trial.

Nearly 11 years later, Samara, 37, of Cary was back in a Wake County courtroom Tuesday on a drunken-driving charge.

So was Pat Gates, who sat in the front row of the courtroom like she says she has done so many times before when Samara has been in court.

"I want him to know that I'm paying attention," she said. "He promised me that he would make his life worthwhile."

Since 2004, Samara has been charged with driving while impaired three times – once in 2006 and then again in March 2013 and in December.

The 2006 case was dismissed, and he was sentenced to three weeks' probation and a suspended sentence in the March case.

The December case – for which he was in court Tuesday – is still pending. Neither Samara nor his attorney, Duncan McMillan, had any comment Tuesday.

"Not only were our lives ruined, but it appears that his is, and that's really sad," Gates said.

Friends have asked Gates repeatedly why she keeps going to Samara's hearings and reliving the events of her son's tragic death.

"I had to think about it, and I realized that I couldn't not come," she said. "I just have to be here."

Gates said she goes for her son and for Samara, to serve as a reminder of his decade-old promise.

"I'm not out for revenge for this man," she said. "I would like for him to be living a wonderful life and doing wonderful things."


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  • 678devilish Jul 17, 2014

    keeping her son's memory alive?

    She need serious help with this. This is not how you remember someone you have lost.

  • Hippy_mom Jul 16, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Maybe this is her way of keeping her son's memory alive?

  • pirategirl342 Jul 16, 2014

    I don't see anger in this woman. I see someone with a MUCH more forgiving heart than my own, I admit sadly.

  • 678devilish Jul 16, 2014

    This mother needs to realize that this young man simply lied to her. She needs to leave it alone and move on with her life. Yes it was a tragedy to have lost her son. But it is even more tragic not for her to have a life because she continues to keep up with the young man because of his promise to her. She do have her sons's memory, and should cherish that.

  • greenbloggirl Jul 16, 2014

    Yep. He's going to have to kill someone that "matters" for him to serve any time, Worthless piece of trash.

  • James Scandrick Jul 16, 2014
    user avatar

    The actual driver was charged with Failure to report an accident, which is a misdemeanor, and 200 CS hours, that was served at a place of her choice. She is now an attorney. She also knows somebody, and they knew her dreams of being a lawyer would be over with a felony on her record. Had she been under privileged or other race, she'd have been jailed, a felony, and license taken permanently. http://www.wral.com/news/local/story/116199/

  • James Scandrick Jul 16, 2014
    user avatar

    It's all about who you know, and who you don't know. The legal system is about connections and money for the most part. You've got people doing 60 days for driving while license revoked.

  • Bill Gibson Jul 16, 2014
    user avatar

    I never quite understood the logic behind “cutting a deal” with the actual driver of the SUV, Emily Caveness, in exchange for her testimony against the person that drove her away from the scene of the accident. If she wasn’t guilty of “hit and run” and the DA knew she was the driver, at the time of the accident, then isn’t that faulty “law logic” to pursue anyone else? What was Rabah Samara going to be charged with? District Attorney Carl R. Fox (now Judge Fox) let Caveness go, and brought Samara to trial. Why?

  • ashewing Jul 16, 2014

    Why is this man still on the streets, let alone behind the wheel of a car?????? Our justice system is a joke.

  • Lightfoot3 Jul 16, 2014

    "he has already caused one death" - dollibug

    Is this thing on? He was NOT the driver! Emily Caveness was.

    "Have the other three repeatedly been arrested for DWI?" - Pepe Silvia

    We never hear about them. I haven't even seen the names of the other two passengers. Wonder why they didn't stay at the scene, call 911, etc?

    "I fear he'll kill another" - Deb1003

    He hasn't killed even one yet, though if he continues driving drunk he may.