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Running the Red Light: Intersection Collisions Take Lives of Groom, Ballet Dancer

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Two heart-breaking stories out of Raleigh this weekend: first, Christopher Raynor, 28 was killed on the way to breakfast with his groomsmen on what was going to be his wedding day. WRAL reports that James Howard Early of Asheville ran a red light at around 7:30 AM, and collided with a car being driven by the groom’s best man. Raynor was sitting in the back seat and was ejected from the vehicle. Early was charged with a red light violation and misdemeanor death by vehicle. Friends and family dealt with the news by making the wedding into a memorial service for Raynor.

Also in Raleigh, Elena Shapiro, a 20 year old dancer with the Carolina Ballet Company, was killed when a drunk driver ran into the rear of her car doing 90 in a 45 mph zone. The driver was Dr. Raymond Cook, a plastic surgeon at Wake Med who also practiced at UNC Hospital. He has since been released on $50,000 bond after being charged with DWI.

These were two young people at pivotal points in their lives: one of them starting a new life with his fiancée and the other starting a promising career.

It seems that we’re seeing more intersection collisions in my practice in recent years. These are particularly dangerous accidents as the speed is often greater and the impact may come to the side of vehicles where there is less protection.

It’s not always possible to avoid an accident, but you can take common sense precautions to reduce your chance of being involved in an intersection crash. The most important single action you can take is to look in all directions before entering the intersection. It’s tempting to just hit the gas when the light turns green but a little extra vigilance can save your life.