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Doctor in fatal DWI crash had BAC three times illegal limit

Posted February 17, 2011
Updated February 24, 2011

— A former Raleigh facial plastic surgeon on trial in the drunken driving death of a ballerina more than a year ago had a blood-alcohol concentration three times the per se legal limit, an emergency room doctor testified Thursday.

Dr. Herbert Myles told jurors that Dr. Raymond Cook was “clinically intoxicated” with a 0.245 reading when he arrived at WakeMed North Hospital on Sept. 11, 2009. Cook submitted to additional testing, which confirmed the result.

Under North Carolina law, a driver is considered impaired with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.08.

Cook is on trial for second-degree murder, driving while impaired and felony death by vehicle in a fatal crash that killed 20-year-old Elena Bright Shapiro at the intersection of Strickland and Lead Mine roads in Raleigh.

Defense attorneys haven’t denied that Cook had been drinking but contended in opening statements this week that he’s innocent of second-degree murder because of his attempt to intervene in the care for Shapiro after the crash.

Earlier Thursday, Simon Capell, an emergency medical technician who was first at the wreck scene, testified that as he evaluated Shapiro's condition, Cook yelled out that she needed to be taken from the car.

"My initial reaction was to become annoyed, because I needed some help," he said. "I turned and said, 'Well, some help would be nice.'"

Capell said that once he took Shapiro out of the car, he began chest compressions and that Cook then jumped in to give her mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

"To be honest, it came across that it was probably a layperson doing it," Capell said. He said Cook ignored signs that the mouth-to-mouth wasn't working and didn't respond to suggestions to reposition her airway.

"At this point, I was becoming an emotional mess," Capell said. "I had no equipment. I had no way to change the outcome – utter sense of helplessness."

Cook backed off when an EMS crew arrived, and Capell helped them. As they lifted Shapiro on a stretcher, he said, Cook again told them to resume compressions.

"I'm thinking, 'Who is this guy?'" said Capell, adding that Cook later identified himself as a physician.

He, another EMT, Frances Smith, and an emergency room nurse, Susan Mason Bryant, each testified that Cook had a strong or moderate odor of alcohol.

Doctor was heavily intoxicated after fatal wreck Doctor was heavily intoxicated after fatal wreck

"I asked him directly, 'Brother, have you been drinking?'" Capell said. "He paused, turned, looked at me and said, 'No.'"

Capell said he became so visibly upset that other EMS workers separated him from Cook.

"After that, my blood pressure is starting to rise," he recalled. "After you work a situation like this, a senseless death, and you begin to get a sense of what happened – you have to control yourself."

Smith, who treated Cook at the wreck scene, said he initially denied drinking but later said he had two drinks while golfing earlier in the day.

"He said specifically, 'Oh, but that was hours ago,'" she said.

Bryant said that Cook initially resisted having a blood test done after he was admitted to the hospital and that he told a doctor, "'No one's proven me drunk yet.'"

Prosecutors have contended that because Cook had been drinking, the wreck was not an accident.

For a second-degree murder conviction, state law requires that prosecutors prove that a suspect acted with malice and should have known that his actions could kill or injure someone.


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  • CandyParamedic Feb 18, 2011

    And additionally, if you are so well trained in CPR, you would know that bystanders are no longer even trained to perform ventilations. It has been well demonstrated that in the vast majority of cardiac arrests residual oxygen is still present in the blood in high percentages. It is much more beneficial to focus your efforts on chest compressions until first responders arrive. Plus there is a tendency to overventilate the patient, resulting in increases pressure within the chest, which actually decreases the effect of chest compressions. In the case of Ms. Shapiro it is doubtful that it would have been of any benefit anyway. According to Mr. Capell's testimony, she had a chest injury that would have resulted in significant difficulty ventilating with a CPR mask or bag mask. It was only after they decompressed the chest and inserted a breathing tube that her airway was secured. Please don't comment on things about which you are ignorant, especially in a derogatory manner.

  • CandyParamedic Feb 18, 2011

    As I noted previously, Mr. Capell is an excellent paramedic. I have had the privilege of working along side him rather extensively. Your comment about his opinion of Mr Cook being more important than the condition of the patient is baseless and just plain ignorant. I don't care how many times you have been trained in CPR and how many times you have done it on a dummy, it is not the same. You are in no position to judge his behavior or treatment, "Dr".

  • Miscellaneous Feb 18, 2011

    While I don't agree with Dr Cook's actions, it is ironic that Ms Hale's actions to prevent actually contributed to the crash. By her actions, she changed the course of events that would have occured otherwise. Maybe we're talking about someone else vs Elena, or maybe this would have been a non event.

  • anastasia Feb 18, 2011

    I have no problem with this witness. She tried to keep this man from getting any drunker, and keep him off the road. Had she succeeded, Elena would be with us today. Her parents wouldn't be grieving and attending the trial of her killer. Too bad she didn't call the cops after seeing him in the parking lot. Maybe if the police came, *raymond* would have been arrested for drunk and disorderly or some other charge to keep him from getting behind the wheel. Again, had that happened, Elena would be with us today.

  • wakeforest914 Feb 18, 2011

    cute comeback...

  • wildcat Feb 18, 2011

    He should get 50 years in prison without early parole.

  • wildcat Feb 18, 2011

    if i were on the jury i would be ready to choke this guy

    That is the very reason why YOU are NOT on the jury. Thank God for that.

  • anastasia Feb 18, 2011

    I hope someone here posts the highlights of this afternoons testimony. Unfortunately for me, I have a drs. appointment. :(

  • Miscellaneous Feb 18, 2011

    you're not alone. There are unpleasant words that describe her.

  • wakeforest914 Feb 18, 2011

    defense needs to takes some notes...if i were on the jury i would be ready to choke this guy