Mom wants man involved in son's hit-and-run death to remember decade-old promise
Posted July 15
Raleigh, N.C. — 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."