911 call released in doctor crash

September 16, 2009 4:26:09 PM PDT
The dramatic 911 call that came in seconds after a fatal crash involving a prominent Raleigh plastic surgeon was made public Wednesday.Click here to listen to the call

Raleigh police say Dr. Raymond Cook was drunk and driving at 85 miles-per-hour in a 45 zone Friday night when he collided with a car driven by Elena Shapiro - a 20-year-old dancer with the Carolina Ballet - on Strickland Road.

"There was a big, bad accident... I think a dude's dead... or... I think somebody's dead,” a caller told a 911 operator.

"How many people are hurt?" asks the dispatcher.

"I don't know sir… there's one... it's a young girl, oh my God. I know there's another car,” said the caller.

"The guy in the other car is out. He's a doctor," says the caller a bit later.

Investigators are also putting together Cook's whereabouts in the hours before the crash.

A manager at Piper's Tavern said the doctor arrived early Friday evening at the business on Falls of the Neuse Road.

"He walked into the restaurant somewhere in that 7:15 range and walked directly up to the bar, ordered a drink," explained one of Piper's owners Jimmy Powers.

Powers says Cook was drinking with an unidentified woman, and when he ordered a second drink, a Piper's manager noticed he was drunk and cut him off.

"She walked him out the back door and we assumed that he was getting in the car with her. He did say he had a ride, so we assumed it was the ride. She seemed fine," said Powers. "You try to take those things and tell 'em not to drive and they agree not to drive and they still get behind the wheel. It's just a terrible situation and our hearts go out to the family and, just, it's devastating. And it's something that shouldn't have happened."

Powers says he was told that before coming to his tavern, Dr. Cook spent much of the day at the Raleigh Country Club - a golf course near WakeMed where he performed plastic surgery.

Eyewitness News sources confirm that as well - but aren't able to say exactly how long Cook was there or whether he was drinking there.

Charges against Cook were increased Tuesday to second-degree murder.

Raleigh police had already charged him with DWI and reckless driving. He was re-arrested on the new charge of murder and he bonded out at $250,000 Tuesday evening.

Also Tuesday, the North Carolina Medical Board said Cook voluntarily surrendered his license to practice medicine in the state.

Hours later, Cook's attorney released a statement from Cook.

Today in Winston-Salem, Elena Bright Shapiro is laid to rest. My wife, parents and family join me in expressing our most profound sympathy to Ms. Shapiro's family. Yet, we understand that words can never take away the pain of her loss. A license to practice medicine is a genuine privilege. It is one that I cherish and have never taken for granted. It has afforded me the opportunity to help and to heal. Today, I surrendered my license to practice medicine. In addition, I resigned my faculty position at UNC and my employment with WakeMed Facial Plastic Surgery. Later this week, I will enter a program that treats substance abuse. Time might heal some things, but it will never take away this hurt and this loss.

Eyewitness News has confirmed that this was not the first time Cook had been charged with going well over the speed limit while intoxicated.

In 1989 in Camden County, Georgia, he was stopped for doing 110 in 65 miles-per-hour zone. He was also charged with DWI.

Court records in North Carolina show that same year he was charged with DWI in this state, but the charges were dropped.

Three years earlier, he was charged with driving too fast for conditions.

Shapiro was just beginning a professional career as a ballerina when her life was cut short. She was laid to rest Tuesday in her home town of Winston-Salem.


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