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Crash victim was 'vibrant,' loved family

Posted December 29, 2008
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Funeral arrangements are being made for an 82-year-old woman who died when her daughter-in-law's car collided with one driven by a woman accused of driving drunk over the weekend.

The wreck happened just before 4 p.m. Saturday at the intersection of Brier Creek Parkway and Glenwood Avenue in north Raleigh.

Police said Linda Ratliff of Durham was driving a Dodge minivan when she turned in front of a Volkswagen driven by Suzanne Pratt of Raleigh.

Pratt's mother-in-law, Minnie Lee Wade, of Michigan, was killed. Passenger Angelene Greenard, also of Michigan, who is Pratt's stepdaughter, suffered a broken nose and bruises.

Woman killed in Brier Creek; Driver charged with DWI Woman killed in Brier Creek; Driver charged with DWI

“She (Minnie) loved family get-togethers. Whenever it had to do with family being together, she loved that,” Pratt said.

Wade was visiting her son's home in Raleigh. The three women were traveling to the Brier Creek community to admire the houses when the crash happened, Pratt said.

"Mom screamed out, 'Oh my God,' and I looked up and I don't really remember too much after that,” Greenard said.

"We hit the van and then we spun a couple of times after that, and then I think we hit the van again,” Pratt said.

Police said Ratliff ran a red light and caused the wreck.

"I said, 'Mama, are you OK?' And she said, 'No no,'” Pratt said.

Wade died of her injuries.

Ratliff, who appeared in court Monday, was charged with involuntary manslaughter, DWI, not having a driver's license and a red light violation, police said.

"I thought it was a shame that she was drunk and didn't have a driver's license and we have to suffer because of that,” said Anthony Wade, the victim's son.

"She needs to realize she took a life that was very vibrant, even at 82 years old she was very vibrant. She loved life and she took that away,” Pratt said.

Wade left four children, 16 grandchildren and seven great grandchildren. She will be buried in Michigan.

Ratliff  was being held Monday evening at the Wake County Jail on $27,000 bond.


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  • beachbum1 Dec 31, 2008

    It will be several generations before that poor family will have a Christmas where the unexcuseable death of a honorable family member will not dampen their spirits.

  • Dr. Dataclerk Dec 31, 2008

    A sweet woman is dead and this drunk will be placed on probation, which means nothing, except that a state employee will keep their job.

    Exactly. Thats why everyone should stay off the roads tonight and stay at home. The drunks will be out in full force. If you do drive be extremely careful getting there and back home.

  • whatusay Dec 30, 2008

    This is why NC pays millions of dollars every year to support a probation department that does nothing. A sweet woman is dead and this drunk will be placed on probation, which means nothing, except that a state employee will keep their job.

  • luigi Dec 30, 2008

    bnice1984, yes, it says they hit the drunk driver...however, the drunk driver ran a red light and pulled in front of them. That makes it the drunk driver's fault. Kinda hard to avoid a collision if you're going 45 mph through an intersection and suddenly a car pulls out in front of you.

  • Fx432 Dec 30, 2008

    And she will drive again at the first opportunity, the courts don't care one bit. This is why this happens time and time again.

  • bnice1984 Dec 30, 2008

    this is a sad story and not to be insensitive, but am I the only one who noticed the article says the family hit the drinking driver? i thought if you rear-end someone its your fault. i rear-ended a lady who slammed on breaks on a beltline entrance ramp because she dropped her cell phone while talking and i got ticketed. cop said, "you have to be able to stop your car". anyways, condolences to the family.

  • cmama312 Dec 30, 2008

    I'm so sorry for this family's terrible loss.

  • bluebird1075 Dec 30, 2008

    I'm with haditup2here. She voluntarily drank and drove. She should be charged with at least voluntary manslaughter. My heart goes out to this family. Your mother/grandmother looked like a very loving lady and should still be with you today! I'm sorry for your loss.

  • Autumn Dec 30, 2008

    Randy, that sure is a callous remark you made. Every innocent person killed by a drunk driver is a tragedy, regardless of age. This lovely lady made an impression on several people, who will miss her dearly.

  • crazymom501 Dec 30, 2008

    Why does the judicial system not do something about these drunk drivers she will be out of jail in less than six months and bet money she will do it again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WHATS UP FOLKS get a hold of your alcohol and driving!!!!!!!!!!