Raleigh bus hits, kills man after he falls to ground

tmcdonald@newsobserver.comOctober 29, 2012 

Wade Junior McCray was struck and killed by a CAT bus Oct. 26, 2012, at a Southeast Raleigh bus stop.


— Moments after the driver refused to let Wade Junior McCray board a Capital Area Transit bus, McCray fell into the path of the moving bus and was killed.

McCray attempted to board at a New Bern Avenue bus stop just before 10:30 p.m. Friday, but driver Jonathan Cedric Watson refused because he appeared to be impaired.

Afterward, McCray, 65, whose address is a downtown day-reporting center for the homeless, fell against the side of the bus and then to the ground, according to the police report. The bus apparently ran over him as it was pulling away from the curb.

Police did not file charges, according to police spokesman Jim Sughrue.

“Alcohol is suggested in the wreck report,” Sughrue said Monday. “He had been allowed to board the bus, but due to his impairment, the driver decided not to accept him as a passenger.”

Sughrue said investigators are awaiting a toxicology report from the state medical examiner’s office to determine if McCray was impaired.

Mike Kennon, the city’s transportation operations manager, said bus passengers must abide by rules of conduct. One of those rules states that riders should not be intoxicated.

“If someone has had a beer then obviously it’s not an issue,” Kennon said Monday. “It’s up to the driver to decide if the rider may create unsafe conditions both for himself and the other passengers.”

He said McCray was refused entry because “he stumbled about.” He described Watson as “a seasoned bus driver” who was first hired by the city in the mid-1990s.

Kennon said Capital Area Transit is conducting its own internal investigation.

A neighborhood regular

Shopkeepers at two convenience stores near the bus stop said McCray might not have been intoxicated, but rather affected by a medical condition that made him dizzy.

Atul Patel, who manages the Crown Express Mart, and Mohammed Asad, who manages the Exxon station at the intersection of New Bern Avenue and Lincoln Court, said McCray was a neighborhood regular who frequently joked and kidded around with them whenever he stopped by their businesses.

Patel said McCray stopped by the Express Mart three or four times a day to buy orange juice, soda and occasionally, a 16 ounce can of Sparks lemonade, which contains alcohol. Many times, he would come to the store to purchase items at the behest of an older woman who lives on nearby Pettigrew Street.

Hours before he died, just after 5 p.m., Patel said McCray visited the store and purchased orange juice “and another kind of drink, not alcohol.”

“He used to drink, but he hadn’t in the last four months because of his medication,” Patel said.

Hours after purchasing the drinks from the Express Mart, McCray walked over to a lone wooden bench that serves as a city bus zone in front of the store.

Patel, who was still at work, looked out of the window of the store and saw people who were sitting on the bench, “getting up suddenly.”

“I thought that somebody got sick,” he said. “I went outside and I saw the body covered by a white sheet.”

Patel did not learn that it was McCray who had died until the next day.

“I don’t think he was drunk,” Patel said. “I had never seen him drunk in the last four or five months.”

A violent past

McCray had spent nearly one-third of his life in prison for criminal convictions.

State records show that he was first convicted of breaking and entering and larceny in 1972 and spent eight years in prison. By 1984, he was convicted of an offense that foreshadowed the violent future to come – misdemeanor possession of a machine gun.

In 1990, he stabbed a friend to death in the 700 block of Quarry Street during a heated argument that police said was a domestic dispute. He spent eight years in prison and was convicted again in 1999 of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury. He was released in 2001 but was convicted again of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill in 2004 and spent three more years behind bars.

And as recently as August he was charged with carrying a concealed weapon, but his other charges since 2007 involve open alcohol container violations and sleeping in city parks without a permit.

Still, those who knew him say McCray was a decent guy.

“He’s not like, a bad person,” Patel said. “The bus driver should have given him a ride to make sure he got to the right place.”

Someone created a memorial to honor McCray’s memory at the bus stop over the past weekend. Three glass-encased candles and a white, wooden cross were under a skinny tree next to the wooden bench where he died.

News researcher Peggy Neal contributed to this report.

McDonald: 919-829-4533

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