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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.


Comment on this Story

  • 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.

  • Just a thought

    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

  • angel malpass

    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.

  • Shaleen

    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.

  • Jeff Owens

    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.

  • Lauren

    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!!!!!!!!!

  • Dirk is Stupid

    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.

  • Vog46

    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.


  • C.C. Schenk

    really need to educate yourself…you don’t lose your lisence for 13 years for a dui.

  • guest123123

    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.

  • Guest2020

    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?

  • wendy rankin

    Could you please find me the da number

  • wendy

    I am the sister of Michael james rankin who did the right thing by walking and not driving…Stephanie chose to drive intoxicated so this is all her fault and I have no compassion for her may God never forgive her

  • wendy rankin

    he was walking his scooter so get your storey straight

  • guest123123

    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.

  • Booey

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

  • StreetSmartz

    It is pretty sad that we’ve gotten to a level of perception where you can’t believe that another person can have the will power or responsibility to NOT get behind the wheel after consuming alcohol. (I find it rather peculiar that your name is a biblical reference, but yet you don’t have faith that people can actually control themselves and make correct choices.) But, no, I haven’t consumed alcohol and then gotten behind the wheel of the car. I guess it has to do with having a certain amount of responsibility BEFORE consuming alcohol or at the very least the intelligence of being in control and planning accordingly by having a designated driver or plan b to get home. I have compassion for the woman, but I’m not about to make it appear that because of her mistake there shouldn’t be consequences or we should feel sorry. A person died. He gets to be buried and rot and she gets to walk away and move on with her life. I think the fact that she gets to live is pretty darn compassionate in comparison.

  • KrisC

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

  • Lauren

    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

  • guest123123

    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


    the reason anyone goes to jail is because they commit a crime. COlor yourself purple and rob a bank and see if this ain’t so IDIOT! Go back to africa with your race card. AMERICA is sick of it! Check statistics. More blacks are in prison because they commit the crimes. Lawyers are available for all races.

  • SMH

    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!

  • not the judge

    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!

  • guest 1234

    I love it when BLACK people claim WHITE people are racist, but are the first ones to throw race card out. BLACK people in Wilmington are the explicit reason racism will continue to live and breath here. Hey ignorant idiot, the “Old South” has been diluted around here pretty well, enough northerners to clean it up, yet you keep pushing it.

    Funny thing is, I didn’t live my life or feel that way until I moved here. Blacks keep bringing up race issues, slavery, whatever. Maybe YOU’RE the reason its still here? I doubt you thought about that, its obvious you’re ignorant to that thought.

    This chick most likely won’t go to jail. Just like so many black drug dealing criminals. She’s guilty, no question. But although she’s guilty, she’s not a menace to society, until she does it again. The drug dealers and thieves are. And they walk every day. And they’re BLACK.

  • Patricia Mazzola

    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!

  • sickofit

    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

  • Psalm23:4

    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.

  • guesty

    Drunk driving isn’t a mistake and the sooner you realize it is a crime and an active choice, the better off you will be. Putting diesel in your gas powered car is a mistake (and carelessness)

  • Dirk

    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.

  • iknowher2

    Orange is the new black.

  • Heimie Schmelter

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

  • Cory E

    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

  • Rusty

    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 :\

  • Keith

    Your an idiot……it was a tragic accident…..it has absolutely nothing to do with race you moron !

  • Guest2020

    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.

  • Jim Stroud

    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.

  • StreetSmartz

    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.

  • Psalm23:4

    Absolutely no one deserves to have their life taken away in such a way, but it does go to show that he was just as much human as she is. He had made the same mistake in the past, obviously not resulting in taking the life if another, but it easily could have happened. She’s not a monster, but a sinner quite like the rest of us. I pray that the justice you seek is granted, and I hope that she learns her lesson from this situation. But, she has a heart, a soul, a family, and friends just as your brother did. This is a tragedy for everyone involved. I hope and pray that your brother can rest peacefully.

  • Psalm23:4

    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.

  • Guestfree4all

    Did he kill anyone and leave them on the side of the road?

  • Karen Rankin

    Would you please tell me how this is even relevant? Are you saying that having a prior DWI conviction makes it okay for him to be hit and killed by a drunk driver?

  • Smoke

    Pretty sure Mr. Rankin was riding the moped because he had at least one prior DWI …. 01008509 DWI LEVEL 4 (PRINCIPAL) 10/14/2001

  • Jools

    I am saddened for BOTH families. It’s so easy to sit in the judgement seat. I have gotten behind the wheel of a car a LOT of times in the past after drinking. I just thank God that no one was hurt because of my choices.

    What both of these families need is our prayers.

  • B Driver

    This is a tragedy for everyone involved. I personally will forever be changed by this incident. I am angry and shocked by the actions of Stephanie. I hope none of us ever know what it feels like to be on either side of this incident. Knowing Stephanie has made me realize that the face of bad decisions comes in many forms. I’m angry, sad and can find no words to give this meaning.

  • 9743

    This drunk won’t serve any jail time because the DA will make sure of that, if anyone thinks she will just wait and see. This case will keep getting pushed further back until it’s out of everybody’s mind and then it will just go away just like all the rest of the DWI cases in New Hanover county where someone has been killed and there have been a few….the laws are on the books to prosecute people like this but they are not enforced unless it’s some poor person or if the offender is a black person. Yeah, I brought up the race card but most of you on here are smart enough to know the poor and blacks are the first to go to jail because that’s who the DA and the justice system target. So sit back folks and watch this case very closely and see how much jail time will be served….this woman was driving while impaired PLUS she killed somebody and it’s a damn shame but nothing, as usual, will happen!!

  • Lulz

    If he hadn’t had the DUI, chances are his life would have been different, he would probably have been driving a car and this accident may not have ever happened.

    I got into an accident with my car once, and I wasn’t able to afford a new car for a while, even after the insurance company totaled my car and paid me what it was worth. I ended up losing my job because I couldn’t make it into Wilmington from Wallace without my car. I got a new job in Wallace, and I was introduced to my current wife. If I hadn’t gotten into that accident and lost my job, I would have never taken my current job, I would never have found my wife. Life is a series of crazy circumstances, unfortunately this time ( and many other times throughout every day ) it took someone’s life.

  • guest578634

    What was her bond set at? Was it secured or unsecured? Is she still in jail?

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