RALEIGH — Wade Junior McCray’s family members say he was a jokester. They called him “Sonny Boy” because he smiled a lot.
They say McCray, 65, never went looking for trouble, but when trouble came across his path he never ran away from it either.
On Oct. 26, police say McCray fell into the path of a moving Capital Area Transit bus and was killed, just moments after the driver, Jonathan Cedric Watson, refused to let him board the vehicle.
Police did not file charges after investigating the incident. An accident report by Raleigh officer C.A. Bradford suggested McCray may have been impaired by alcohol when he attempted to board at a New Bern Avenue bus stop just before 10:30 p.m. Afterward, he fell against the side of the bus and then to the ground. The bus apparently ran over him as it was pulling away from the curb, according to the accident report.
Mike Kennon, the city’s transportation operations manager, said bus passengers must abide by rules of conduct. One of those states that riders should not be intoxicated. CAT drivers can decide if a rider may create unsafe conditions both for himself and the other passengers.
McCray’s body was transported to the state medical examiner’s office. Investigators are still awaiting a toxicology report to determine whether he was impaired.
Kennon described Watson as a seasoned, part-time driver who has been with the bus company since the mid-1990s. Capital Area Transit is conducting its own internal investigation. Kennon could not be reached for comment Monday.
At least two people who work as convenience store managers in the 2100 block where McCray was struck say they don’t think he had been drinking for several months because he had been taking medication that made him dizzy.
Atul Patel, who manages the Crown Express Mart in front of the bus stop where McCray was killed, said that hours before the accident, McCray visited the store and purchased a bottle of orange juice and another non-alcoholic drink.
McCray’s family held a funeral service for him Friday at Chappell’s Funeral Home in Garner. He had been estranged from most of the family after a series of criminal problems.
He was born in Wake County in 1947, one of eight children. His father was considered a jack of all trades who worked as a cement mixer, hospital cook and carpenter. His mother was a stay-at-home wife.
McCray’s older sister, Daisy Mayer of St. Augustine, Fla., said that even as a youngster, her brother was “a very comical, very talkative guy.”
“He always had something to joke about,” Mayer said.
McCray grew up in the Walnut Terrace neighborhood. He enjoyed playing football and walking.
When he became an adult, he followed in his dad’s footsteps and took up carpentry. He was also a licensed electrician.
He married an older woman when he was in his 40s and she was in her 60s. The couple was childless. She later died of cancer.
In 1990, McCray was 43 when he was convicted in Wake County on charges of second-degree murder. Police said he stabbed a friend, Thomas Robinson, to death in the 700 block of Quarry Street during a heated argument. McCray 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.
Mayer said her brother became estranged from the rest of the family during that time.
“He did it. He served time for it. I was praying for him the whole time. We all fall short of the glory of God,” she said. “He never talked about it — why he did it or what the cause may have been.”
Mayer said that her brother’s disconnection with the rest of his family, save for a younger brother, continued until his funeral Friday, when loved ones gathered to say goodbye.
As for questions about his medical condition, Mayer said she “didn’t have a clue.”
“He never told me anything,” she said. “It’s a puzzle. Even to his family.”