Witnesses recount crash that killed ballerina

Raymond Cook appears in a Wake County courtroom Wednesday February 16, 2011.

February 16, 2011 5:08:55 PM PST
The crash that killed a young ballerina with the Carolina Ballet in September 2009 was so severe that it shocked veteran law enforcement officers.

"Good night," Raleigh police officer Jeffrey Geisendaffer is heard to exclaim on the recording from the dash camera from his police cruiser as he rolled up on the scene.

When the officer got out of his car, paramedics were already trying to save the life of 20-year-old Elena Shapiro.

Prosecutors say Raleigh plastic surgeon Raymond Cook caused the crash. Cook is charged with second-degree murder, felony death by motor vehicle, and driving while impaired in the death of 20-year-old Shapiro. Police say Cook was intoxicated and driving more than 80 miles an hour in a 45 mph zone just before he crashed into Shapiro's car on Strickland Road in Raleigh on September 11, 2009.

Cook's attorneys admit he had been drinking before the crash and was speeding. They're challenging the second-degree murder charge saying the prosecution can't prove malice - a requirement under North Carolina law.

In his testimony Wednesday, Geisendaffer said he could smell alcohol on Cook.

"I noticed he was stumbling, not essentially walking in a direct path," he said.

Other witnesses testified Cook got out of his Mercedes following the crash and attempted to perform CPR on Shapiro.

Other's talked about the high rate of speed Cook's car was moving at in the seconds before the crash. An off-duty paramedic testified the damage to the cars was the most extreme he had ever witnessed.

Following the crash, Cook gave up his medical license and left positions he once held at WakeMed and the UNC School of Medicine. According to WakeMed hospital's website, Cook was a facial reconstructive expert.

ABC11 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.

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