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Wilmington woman facing several charges for hitting, killing moped driver


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- A Wilmington woman faces several charges after police say she hit and killed a man on a moped and drove off before calling dispatchers to turn herself in.

Wilmington Police say it happened around 3 a.m. Saturday in the 2600 block of Market Street. That's where officers say Stephanie Wells, 22, hit a man on a moped. Officers say they found Michael J. Rankin on the side of the road there, dead.

Police say witnesses saw Wells drive away from the scene where she hit Rankin, but officers say she later called 911 to report the crime and turn herself in. Wells is charged with death by motor vehicle, hit and run and DWI.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.



I knew Mike Rankin, and to see the unkind things that have been written up here about him is just disgraceful. His family has been reading these callous comments about their loved one. Does anyone think about that? What happened to Mike could have been prevented by that young lady either staying put or getting someone to bring her where she had to go. Whether she is a good person or not, has nothing to do with what happened. She left a man to die instead of facing what she did. That is an act of cowardice.Now not only does Mike's family and friends have to pay for her carless mistake, so does her family. Her conscience and guilt will surely eat her alive. But just remember Michael did not deserve to die. Rest in Peace Mike.

What happened

What happened when we didn't point fingers and let God decide what's wrong and to judge the decisions of things that happen. Whether she or he is at fault or both we should not be pointing there will be a time when ever human will have to come forward to be judged let's not do it now and just live and heal or lives are to short now to have the hate we carry in our hearts

Not popular opinion but.......

I have always felt that there should be MILLIONS of mopeds and scooters on the roads. Not because there are millions of drunks but because they are fun, economical means of transportation. When mopeds become numerous - too numerous to ignore then automobile drivers MAY become a little more attuned to their presence.
Based upon what I'm reading here and on news stories prior - it seems that moped drivers are stigmatized as drunken, irresponsible people with prior DU and DWI convictions. When this stigma is overcome, THEN Moped drivers may get the consideration they deserve.
License? Insurance for mopeds? Go for it! Anything that gets them MORE street legal and MORE popular and brings MORE drivers to the table (road)is OK by me.
Our love affair with the automobile has totally blinded us to other means of transportation that are used world wide.
When you see Mopeds on rainy road and the drivers drenched, then we'll finally realize our acceptance of them. Much like today when you see motorcycle drivers in the rain - THEY have finally been accepted as mainstream Americana, and used daily.
Give Mopeds the same serious consideration you give motorcycles when on the road. Unfortunately, in this case, the auto driver was drunk and the victim COULD very well have been on a full sized motorcycle with the same result.
Not all moped drivers are "drunks" the same way that not all motorcycle drivers belong to Hells Angels. Lets get over our own misconceptions.


I think it will be

I think it will be interesting to find out whether her alcohol consumption actually played a part in the accident. Market St at the location at night is not a good mix with mopeds. The cars almost touch each when driving in that stretch of traffic.

I didn't know there were an

I didn't know there were an abundance of vehicles on that stretch at 3am??? Must of been like going through rush hour in a major city and in that case with all those cars how fast could she of been going??? Think before you post!!!!!!!!!

All of you having negative

All of you having negative things to say Bout my uncle should be ashamed of yourself!! How does him having a DUI 13 years ago have anything to do with him dying. This woman was relased from jail before we were even notified. I was the first notified and you have no idea how that felt being home alone with my two daughters ad having to call my mother and let her know her brother was killed! Keep your nasty comments to yourself my family does not need to see them. Remember what goes around comes around I hope you never face the situation we are living


Sorry for your loss. I know a few out here in the country. Some have past and some so they can survive more efficiently. My nephew at 16 drove one from maple hill to Currie just to see his girlfriend. Now wife. Now I would not mind one but. I drive a tractor mowing the roadside and I have been almost hit plenty. Its a shame. Just slow down and save a life.

I am sorry for your families

I am sorry for your families loss. Mike was a good guy and friend of mine since we were kids. May he rest in peace.

Yes, it is very inappropriate

Off the cuff conjecture and negative commentary is cruel and totally unnecessary.

Well looks like she has been

Well looks like she has been a good girl before this. Just failure to dim lights and no operators license in possession and both were dismissed.The man who was hit on the moped,well lets just say he had his share of traffic violations including DWI

So, because she has only had

So, because she has only had minor offenses in her history she should get off, and Michael deserved to die because he had a DWI conviction thirteen years ago? Would she be more guilty of killing a person with no criminal history?

OK enough already

Her defense attorney will bring up her spotless past minus two infractions that were dismissed. The victim was in his 40's and who knows how many times he got into a vehicle and drove after consuming alcohol. He was on a moped for a reason. No one would probably insure him with his awful driving record.

shaking my head - not my

shaking my head - not my finger - you people need to grow a heart! your comments are so hard and none of you have been in the shoes of either of these people. SO STOP ALREADY!! It's not for you to judge either of them. maybe when you have to ride a bike or start walking because you're down on your luck you'll get it! Sick of self-centered judgmental bigots!


I have gotten stuck behind one of these liqourEmobiles and have been late for doctor appointment, they looked mad at me! He was driving in the left lane carrying a surfboard! going up Military Cut Off with all that traffic, Of course he was wobbling up the road with the surfboard . Have they tested the moped driver yet? Well I am sure they have. But I wonder why he was driving a liquormobile in the first place!


he was walking his scooter so get your storey straight


He was walking his scooter, like walking a dog, wow is this the new craze? Hey dummy its spelled STORY

Well...... What is the bright side?

Thats one less moped that I have to wait on while trying to get down Market Street. Chances are the reason he was on a moped is because he was former DWI. The circle of life.

Well....What is the bright side?

You're obviously not on the bright side, Dirk. What a judgmental, loser comment to make. Wowzers bud, watch for lightning, God don't play.

but for the grace of God you

but for the grace of God you aren't riding a moped but wait, you're not dead yet either. It sounds like it's all about u. Maybe when you're riding your moped that will change too!

Orange is the new black.

Orange is the new black.

Time heals all ...... Forgiveness

Sorry steph love u and I kno it was an accident and I kno ur sorry I wish u the best and the family of the departed my condolences may god be with you all


Mopeds and bicycles have no business being on the road. Say what you will, but it is absolutely stupid to think they are safe on a road with registered taxed tagged and titled cars,trucks,and motorcycles traveling at proper speeds. I don't know if he was drunk or not and do not care. They are a traffic hazard,hard to see, and they impede traffic flow. And most I have witnessed don't have the dang sense to keep to the right so they can be safely passed.If a moped is considered a bike...put them on the bike paths and let them slow down and stop when they approach someone walking on the sidewalk.

As much as others may not

As much as others may not like it I have to agree with you on the dangers of bicycles and mopeds using roadways. At this point we don't know the BAC of either driver so really can not make any conclusions on fault. If she was at the BAC of .08 MADD clamored for instead of .10 that used to be the standard that should be factored in, if she was .20 well OK no argument here. Currently we have no information on the accident and cannot make any real conclusion on fault other than she was charged with DUI (NOT found guilty yet mind you).

Will she have to live with happened for the rest of her life; Yes and it will likely torment for her days. BUT there has been no trial yet or any real information on the accident so assailing either person's reputation is jumping the gun. Leaving the scene was a bad idea but at least she didn't remain a fugitive for long like most. Tragic all the way around and shouldn't have happened but life is like that as much as we wish it wasn't :\

First and foremost I want to

First and foremost I want to offer my deepest sympathy and condolences to the family and friends of Michael Rankin. May God rest his soul, and may the Lord and Michael above come to a fitting path of justice for this tragedy. With that being said, I hope we all take a minute to realize that Stephanie lost her future in that moment as well. Everyone is so quick to judge and wish consequence upon her, but being a living, breathing human with heart and compassion I can assure you the agony and regret she puts herself through will be the worst consequence of this situation. I in no way am condoning what she did, however, she is a young 22-year-old woman that made the biggest mistake of her life. She will no longer have the spirit she once had. Every dream, hope, and goal is now out of the question due to a poor choice, a choice millions make, and it cost this man his life, and in many ways it cost her hers as well. I hope those pointing fingers have clean hands and even cleaner records, because all in all we all falter at some point. We all have faults, we all find ourselves in weak moments, but with each tribulation comes a lesson. I hope that everyone can take a lesson from this tragedy and help prevent this type of thing from happening again. Instead of bashing someone for their mistakes, I wish we could all come together and lift everyone affected by this in prayer. The things you say and the way you treat people in their moments of weakness say a whole lot more about your character than it does theirs. Thoughts, prayers, and strength to everyone involved in this.


A man lost his life. And a women lost her life. but instead of having a peaceful ensuring loving cloud to sleep on called heaven, stephanie has to live with the fact that a man was killed by the decision that almost 5,000 people make EVERY 30 SECONDS. I feel deeply for the family who lost there son, uncle, bestfriend, ect. Yet no one cares about the women. You all have made stupid mistakes. I bet HALF of the people commenting on this article has made the choice to drive while being under the enfluence. "It will never happen to me" how about instead of saying nasty uneeded comments we learn from her mistake.

Putting salt in your coffee

Putting salt in your coffee instead of sugar is a mistake. Wearing one black sock and one brown sock is a mistake. Drinking and driving is a conscious decision. While she is LIVING with what she did, Michael will be in a cold, dark grave.


Now look at your hate-filled words from this article and look at what you posted on the article concerning the Carolina Bch man who raped two CHILDREN...UNBELIEVABLE

His post isn't "hate-filled" at all, it's...

...nothing other than solid fact and honesty, the best kinds of posts that can be received on articles like this.


Which moment are you talking about? The moment when she hit the man -OR- the moment when she decided to get behind the wheel some 26 blocks away downtown? Was it the moment of impact that she lost everything -OR the moment when she had too much to drink and pulled the keys out of her purse? I'm glad you aren't condoning her behavior because that would be idiotic. Instead, you make a post that equates to little more than... "I'm sorry for the loss of this man's life, but let's not fault the person who did it and instead mourn the fact that someone who is alive now has a hurdle that she caused herself." Give me a freaking break. I'm sorry for the loss of this man because there are so many idiotic people out there who think they should get drunk and then drive and that there are people who think that we should feel sorry for the perpetrators. Maybe we should give her one of those 12th place ribbons and a pat on the back for making it 26 blocks without hitting anyone else, too, while we are at it.

I guess we'll save the 11th

I guess we'll save the 11th place ribbon for you considering you have NEVER once consumed an alcoholic beverage and then gotten behind the wheel of a car....I think she should have to take responsibility and serve her time, but I think this is a tragic situation all around and people such as yourself are making it even uglier. As humans we should have compassion for everyone involved.