Local News

Charges Pending Against Second Person In Hit-And-Run Death Of UNC Reporter

Posted October 7, 2003 10:18 a.m. EDT

— Authorities have charged a Raleigh man in a hit-and-run crash that killed a Durham radio reporter early Saturday on Interstate 40 south of Hillsborough, according to the state Highway Patrol.

Rabah Samara, 26, was charged Monday by the Highway Patrol with felony hit and run and failing to stop with personal injury, according to arrest records filed Monday night with the Wake Magistrate's Office.

Samara is accused of driving a Cadillac Escalade away from the scene of the crash that killed Stephen Gates, the Tar Heel Sports Network's football sideline reporter.

Gates, 27, was returning from visiting family in Greensboro to work a game when he died. He had pulled over to fix a flat tire about 2:25 a.m. Saturday near the split for Interstate 85 and I-40 when an Escalade hit Gates' car and then him, thowing him about 100 feet, according to a state Highway Patrol accident report.

Witnesses took down the Escalade's tag number. Raleigh police spotted the vehicle nearly seven hours after the crash being driven by Samara. He was charged Saturday with driving while impaired.

Authorities do not think Samara was driving when the crash occurred, but that he took over after the vehicle stopped at the scene briefly before leaving, Orange County District Attorney Carl Fox said.

Interviews with witnesses indicate that Emily Caveness, 20, of Wilkesboro, was behind the wheel of the Cadillac SUV when it hit Gates.

"There was one female driving prior to the accident. The accident occured, there was a conversation between the people in the vehicle. A passenger gets out of the vehicle [and] takes over the driver's spot. The female who was initially driving slides into the passenger seat and they drive off with a male driving at that time," according to Trooper Rodney Cates of the Highway Patrol.

Caveness faces misdemeanor death and involuntary manslaughter charges

According to court records, Samara was arrested on the latest charges about 4:30 p.m. Monday and posted a $3,000 bond at the Wake County jail Monday night and was awaiting release, a Wake magistrate said.

Samara said previously in an interview that he and the three others in the SUV would have stopped immediately if they had known the vehicle struck a person. He said he was not driving at the time of the crash but would not say who was.

Troopers are also trying to pinpoint the route the vehicle was on just prior to the collision.

"If she was on I-40, it shows that she swerved into the acceleration lane for some unknown reason and struck the victim in this case," Cates said.

Authorities said the vehicle is registered to Shaker Asad, who was a soccer player at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh. He also played soccer at N.C. State and played for the Atlanta Silverbacks.

A visitation for Gates is scheduled for 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Hanes Lineberry Funeral Home in Greensboro. A second visitation begins at 5 p.m. Wednesday at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church, also in Greensboro. The funeral Mass follows at 7 p.m.

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    UNC Broadcaster Killed In Hit-And-Run