According to the North Carolina Highway Patrol, a mother who suffered fatal personal injuries along with her 5-year-old son in a collision with an Amtrak train was talking on her cell phone right before the crash. Investigators say that 26-year-old Erin Lindsay-Calkins failed to stop for crossing arms at the railroad crossing while turning from Forrest Drive onto Mount Willing Road in Efland on December 22. The force of the impact killed her and her 5-year-old son Nicholas. Her infant daughter Aven survived with minor injuries.
Investigators said that at the time of the crash, all of the warning devices at the crossing were properly functioning. They say evidence gathered from witnesses and Amtrak officials reveals that Lindsay-Calkins was on the phone when she drove under the gate and onto the tracks.
Cameras are mounted on Amtrak trains, but officials did not reveal what the camera from the train involved showed.
According to eyewitness Bessie Bean, she jumped out of her car and helped the 4-month-old out of the totaled vehicle and held her until paramedics arrived at the scene.
The Department of Transportation says that on any given day in 2008, more than 800,000 vehicles were driven by someone using a cell phone. Bean says she hopes this crash will help drivers become more aware of the dangers of such distractions.
An ongoing debate over a hands-free cell phone law is currently taking place in the state. A law banning texting while driving went into effect on December 1.