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Posted October 19, 2012 | comments 10 Comments

Man avoids second reckless driving charge in less than a year

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 jbeck@nvdaily.com

10 Comments | Leave a comment

    Another ShenCo slap on the hand....imagine that!

    Has the 'legal' system in Shen Co lost it's collective minds??!!!!! This guys needs and deserves JAIL time before he is involved in another fatal crash. Maybe he was 'raised in a bad environment with a lot of issues,and NO I wasn't in the court room to hear all the bah, bah, bah on why he is such a sad case, etc., etc.'; we don't care! Get your act together Shen Co 'law enforcement'!! We don't pay our fine police department to play 'catch and release', put these type of criminals beyond bars before they kill incident people in our wonderful community. A community our 'judges and prosecuting attorneys pledged to protect, do your jobs or find another place to work!!!

    Just don't let these cops catch you putting down the street at 10 miles an hour without your seat belt or they'll really throw the book at you!

    Well ShenCo has always made the laws as they go to suite them and if you have the money to put in the lawyers, commonwealths, and the judges pocket then you can get by with anything and Warren Co, Page Co, Frederick Co and Rockingham Co is all the same way so I can only imagine that is the way the rest of the justice system is by what I have seen and heard on the news. For example look at the Allamong case with all the pot they found and he got away with a slap on the hand if that would have been most anybody else they would have been charged with a felony and then put in prison/jail for a long peroid of time, I know a guy in Shen Co that has been caught atleast 5 times for DUI and driving on suspended license and because he had the money to put in the judges pocket, the commonwealths pocket and allomongs pocket he has only got a slap on the hand and let go, his first offense he pulled 20 days and license suspended for 30 but if it would have been a normal person with very little money there licenses would have been suspended for 6 months or longer or until the fines and outragious court costs were all paid and spent 30 days or more in jail, this same person got caught in Warrenton for drug proceesion and DUI and I had to go at 4 am to get his small son from the police dept and he got off with nothing again because he was able to buy his way out. Where is that fair and where is that justice ?

    This is just crazy. First of all the cops do not make the laws; they can take "them in" but after that it's the legal system that puts them back on the street.
    This guy has learned the lesson that he can get away with just a slap on the wrist. The only lesson that the Commonwealth has taught him thus far, unfortunately. Maybe next time he is racing and someone dies, it will be a loved one of someone in the Commonwealths Attorney's office.
    My son got 30 days jail time, lost his license for 6 months, plus a fine for 2 reckless driving offenses that occurred in 1 month in Frederick County. Am I upset about that? No, it taught him a lesson and potentially saved his life as well as the life of others. That same day we saw numerous DUIs with no insurance or license walk out with just a fine (they had lawyers, we did not).
    Parents need to stop coddeling their "kids" and let them know that there are consequenses to their actions. How many more of our children are going to die on the roads because of irresponsible people?

    Virginia is not for lovers; VA is for Sweet Plea Deals

    This is a stupid story. This clown was popping wheelies on a motorcycle in the afternoon. No one was harmed. The cop cited him for reckless driving. Any cop in VA would have cited him for reckless because that's how cops are trained. It is SOP for the charge to be reduced to improper. Please also remember this guy was previously acquitted after a trial. Only a reporter from the NVD would link the 2 stories together in order to sell some newspapers.

    This Joe Beck guy seems to write a lot of these stories. I think the intent is to embarrass his neighbors. Looking forward to the big headline and jail picture of Joe Beck when he clocks 20 miles over on route 11. It's only fair NVDaily.

    Old guard and Rob, your comments show your ignorance! Maybe if this fool in the story killed one of your loved ones you'd be a little more concerned and appreciate that Joe Beck is just imforming the public of yet another moron let go to run the streets wild!

    This guy should not be able to drive. I am sure when he got out of court he was laughing. I know it makes the cops mad to see the people driving around or back on the streets after they their job. I only hope that this boy will wake up and see what he has done.

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