Local News

Doctor suspended after being charged in DWI death

Posted September 13, 2009 5:07 p.m. EDT
Updated September 23, 2009 6:58 p.m. EDT

— A Raleigh plastic surgeon was suspended from his job at WakeMed Sunday after being charged with driving while impaired in a wreck that killed a ballerina last week.

Raleigh police said that Raymond Dwight Cook, 42, of 10516 Beckridge Lane, was driving a Mercedes 90 mph in a 45 mph zone Friday when he crashed into the back of a Hyundai driven by Elena Bright Shapiro, 20, at Lead Mine and Strickland roads.

Paramedics took Shapiro to WakeMed, where she died. Cook was also treated at WakeMed for minor injuries.

He was charged with death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired, failure to reduce speed and careless and reckless driving, authorities said. He was released from jail after posting a $50,000 secured bond.

Cook is employed by UNC Hospitals and is contracted to practice with WakeMed, the hospital said.

“The entire WakeMed family would like to pass along their condolences to the family of Elena Shapiro," WakeMed spokeswoman Heather Monackey said. "We are saddened that this tragic event has taken such a young and beautiful life. Dr. Cook has been suspended for the time being to allow for further investigation in the case."

'A true tragedy'

Shapiro, of Winston-Salem, was training with the Carolina Ballet, based in Raleigh, and had been dancing since she was 10, according to the group's Web site.

"She was a very young dancer. She had her whole life ahead of her. She had all the equipment to be a great dancer," said Robert Weiss, Carolina Ballet's artistic director. "We don't know what she would have done. That's the tragedy, that she never had a chance to find out what she could achieve."

The dancers still plan to perform Swan Lake this Thursday to open the season.

"In her memory, we're going to give these performances that she was going to be a part of," Weiss said. "It's a true tragedy, and there's no way to make it better, but what we do in our profession is we bring joy to a lot of people ... and we're going to go ahead and try to still do that."

Shapiro's funeral services will be held at noon Tuesday in Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University.