Local News

Child killed by car after Erwin Christmas parade

Posted December 6, 2011
Updated December 7, 2011

— One day ago, a 3-year-old Erwin boy was basking in the lights of the town's annual Christmas parade.

Cullen Reese Parker, who was known by the nickname "Boo," was wearing the new Carhartt pants his mom made him wear and a blue shirt with the words, "Let It Snow."

After the parade, the toddler, his parents, 10-year-old brother and family friends were walking through a parking lot on their way to dinner when he was hit by a car trying to exit. Authorities said Laura Turner, 21, of Edwin, behind the wheel didn't see the boy. She was leaving her job at the end of the day and driving through the parking lot. 

Erica Parker turned around to see Cullen lying on the ground. Not knowing how badly he was hurt, Parker started to feel bad for her son since he had hoped to play basketball this year.

"Bless his heart. He's not going to play in his first game. We're going to have to take him to the hospital, patch him up. He's going to miss his first game or something," she said Tuesday.

She soon noticed that Cullen wasn't moving or crying. He screamed only after his parents and a family friend named Brian tried to move him.

"We kept trying to talk with him. Brian kept trying to talk with him, (saying) 'Stay with me, Buddy. Stay with me,'" Parker said, sobbing. "'And he kept saying 'Mama, Mama.' Then, I just held him in my arms."

Cullen Reese Parker Toddler killed by car after Christmas parade

Parker said she told Cullen she loved him. Then, the little boy was taken to Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital, where he died.

The Parkers still have presents for Cullen under their Christmas tree, where a "Baby's First Christmas" ornament hangs. Cullen would have turned 4 years old next week.

The incident is under investigation. No charges have been filed. Authorities said Turner is distraught over what happened.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • Country Girlz Have MORE fun Dec 8, 2011

    TO: carolinas1075
    You're a cold person if you want to charge the parents. have you been to any events downtown ??? Its busy ! These people just lost their child !!! Not a pet, job or material object...THEIR BABY !!! Their hearts are so broken. The nerve of anyone seeing or reading this to judge that couple is just plain COLD HEARTED. To think it IS BAD ENOUGH, BUT to take the steps to post it online so they can read it..WHAT ON GOD'S EARTH IS WRONG WITH YOU??? I'm praying for you while I pray for them.

  • forestseaton Dec 8, 2011

    Also Let me be the first to say about the reporter and the camera man from WRAL they did what they were asked to do to get the correct story out there because so many people saying things that were not true. Both of these men cried with the family and prayed so dont judge them.

  • photosbyjo Dec 7, 2011

    I concur...media did nothing wrong. They simply reported the news...and not all news is good; however, because of the very respectful news coverage of this awful tradgedy, I believe the community where I grew up has shown it's small-town strength in an outpouring of love, prayers & condolences to the Parkers and all involved. Yes, Trent & Erica could have refused an interview, but you knew know, who may have needed to hear her painful words to perhaps cherish their own children, just a little greater. We are praying for you all.

  • threeboys4us Dec 7, 2011

    @mobilegeek and wildcat

    I know from experience that they are in total shock right now. I do not even remember writing my own son's obit but somehow I did it. No one needs to see a mom in pain crying on tv to know that this family is devastated. The shock, the pain and the horror of it all makes you someone you don't even now you are. Printing quoted words from the family is one thing but seeing that mother and father in complete meltdown mode is not for the public to see.

  • Mobile Geek Dec 7, 2011


    I can understand your discontent with an aggressive media, but certainly the family could refuse an interview. However, one could question why the media loves to profit from stories about children from as they often make the new,ore than I like. Perhaps because people read them? Makes it very difficult to simply point fingers at the media dor what they do, when they are simply meeting the demand.

  • wildcat Dec 7, 2011

    Everyone grieves differently but a 3rd party media person should know better than to do this so soon when the family is still in shock, barely functioning...

    Nothing WRAL staff did was wrong. They brought the news and I am sure they had great respect for the family. Oh, explain why the family agree to do an interview? They did not have to. That would have be their right, and WRAL staff would have complied with that.

  • wildcat Dec 7, 2011

    My condolences to the family. May God continue to comfort all of you in the days ahead.

  • mrsgranola Dec 7, 2011

    I see I'm not the only one who was upset with WRAL over this interview. It had been less than 24 hours since her child's death and they interview her on camera??? Everyone grieves differently but a 3rd party media person should know better than to do this so soon when the family is still in shock, barely functioning...

  • threeboys4us Dec 7, 2011

    I absolutely agree with gallbury as I was very upset with the interview. Trust me she will not even remember giving that interview. The family should be allowed to grieve in private and not with cameras and reporters asking her exactly what happened that night.

  • pdeedee Dec 7, 2011

    Prayers to the families of the child and the driver.