Local News

Plastic surgeon in court for ballerina's death

Posted September 14, 2009 11:58 a.m. EDT
Updated September 23, 2009 6:58 p.m. EDT

— A local plastic surgeon charged with killing an aspiring ballerina in a drunken-driving wreck over the weekend learned during his first court appearance Monday that he could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the charges he's facing.

Raymond Dwight Cook, 42, of 10516 Beckridge Lane in Raleigh, faces death by motor vehicle, driving while impaired, failure to reduce speed and careless and reckless driving in connection with the Friday wreck at Lead Mine and Strickland roads.

Raleigh police said he was driving a car at a speed of 90 mph in a 45 mph zone when he crashed into the back of a Hyundai driven by Elena Bright Shapiro, 20, of Winston-Salem.

Shapiro, who died at WakeMed, was in the area training with the Carolina Ballet.

Cook was released from jail last week after posting a $50,000 bond.

"He's obviously distraught. It's such a tragedy that happened, and he's just trying to get by day by day," Cook's attorney, Roger Smith Jr., said Monday. "He's just flooded with so many emotions right now."

Cook, a specialist in facial plastic surgery, was licensed by the North Carolina Medical Board in 1999 and is based at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. He is contracted to practice at WakeMed but has been suspended.

Jean Fisher Brinkley, director of the board's Division of Public Affairs, would not say whether it is looking into the wreck.

"Generally speaking, when the board becomes aware of a situation where a licensee may have committed misconduct, its policy is to investigate," she said.