By Joe Beck
An Edinburg man charged with reckless driving in a fatal crash in 2010 avoided a conviction for reckless driving in a separate case Tuesday in Shenandoah County General District Court.
Sean Michael Ratcliffe, 21, of 2756 Ridge Hollow Road, pleaded guilty to improper driving and was fined $250 in a plea agreement he negotiated with Commonwealth's Attorney Amanda Wiseley, according to court records. Wiseley was unavailable for comment Friday.
The outcome marked the second time this year Ratcliffe has avoided a reckless driving conviction.
The first reckless driving case ended in an acquittal when Shenandoah County General District Judge Amy Tisinger ruled in late March that Ratcliffe's actions did not incite a road race that led to the death of a passenger in another vehicle more than a year before.
In the earlier case, law enforcement officials had accused Ratcliffe of encouraging a race between himself and Michael McDaniel, the driver of another car on Dec. 29, 2010.
Police said Ratcliffe tried to pass McDaniel and matched speed when McDaniel sped up on U.S. 11 just north of Woodstock.
The race ended when McDaniel's car, a 1997 Mitsubishi Eclipse, veered off the road and crashed into rocks and an embankment. A passenger, Chad Allen Neff, 17, was ejected and pronounced dead at the scene. A state trooper testified in court that McDaniel's car was traveling more than 90 mph at the time of the accident.
Two days after his acquittal of the reckless driving charge in the fatal accident, Ratcliffe was cited again for reckless driving. The second charge came after state trooper Jason L. Street saw him popping wheelies on his motorcycle on Reservoir Road and Hisey Avenue in Woodstock at about 1 p.m. March 29, according to a criminal complaint.
The latest case marked the third time Ratcliffe has been charged with reckless driving in Shenandoah County. His only conviction came in 2011 when he was fined $400.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org