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Mother, son killed in train-car wreck; baby survives

Posted December 22, 2009
Updated December 29, 2009

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— A young Efland mother and her 5-year-old son died Tuesday when their car collided with an Amtrak train, investigators with the state Highway Patrol said.

Car-train collision claims two lives Car-train collision claims two lives

Erin Brett Lindsay-Calkins, 26, drove under the crossbars at the railroad crossing at Southern Drive and Mount Willing Road and had stopped on the tracks when the train slammed into her Toyota, troopers said.

"I happened to be looking at the crossway when it happened and heard the boom," said Gayle Emory, who works across from the intersection. "The Amtrak (train) hit the car and spun it around."

Lindsay-Calkins and her son, Nicholas Lindsay, 5, died in the collision. A second child, 4-month-old Aven Brooke Lindsay-Calkins, survived the wreck.

"It just makes your heart sick," Emory said.

Troopers said all three occupants of the car were properly restrained.

Emory said she called 911 and went outside. She saw a car seat on the ground, and another woman found Aven inside the car, Emory said.

"The baby had just a small contusion on the forehead," Emory said.

Aven was transported to UNC Hospitals where she was listed in fair condition Tuesday afternoon.

The train, Amtrak's No. 80 from Charlotte to Durham, was carrying 215 passengers. None of them was injured. The train was delayed by 2 hours and 15 minutes.

A witness said the lights were flashing and the gates were down at the crossing when Lindsay-Calkins hit the lowered gates.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk Southern said the company has fielded 11 calls in the past year from people reporting problems with the crossing. A malfunction was reported in one of the cases in which a defective breaker needed repair, said spokeswoman Robin Chapman.

The other cases dealt with a broken light or gate, typically caused by drivers trying to cross the intersection during or after the warning lights and gate were triggered, according to Chapman.

Paul Worley, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the state was not aware of any problems with the crossing. He said an estimated 7,000 vehicles per day pass through the crossing, and the tracks there handle 12 trains per day at a maximum speed of 79 mph.

Worley said the last wreck at that crossing was in January 1980.

Later Tuesday, at the Lindsay-Calkins house in Efland, neighbors gathered to help the father, who they said is devastated.

"If someone came to you and said, 'Your wife and kid are dead,'" neighbor John Moore said, his voice trailing off. "(He's) not doing well."

Moore remembered the children playing at his house during a visit a few days ago.

"To see it all go away, it is not good," he said.

Tuesday's collision is the second this month between a train and car at a railroad crossing. Brothers Calvin Brandon, 9, and Hassan Bingham, 6, died Dec. 10 when their mother's Ford Explorer was hit by a train near the intersection of Ellis Road and Angier Avenue in Durham.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • meredith06alum Jan 1, 2010

    it's sad that all of you are writing comments and you don't even know all the facts. i'm erin's first cousin and to see all these comments is just horrible to even read.

  • Jack Flash Dec 23, 2009

    Here? Nope. I'm always cautious and mindful of how much I don't know here.

  • leo-nc Dec 23, 2009

    "...when all they are really doing is offering arrogant, uninformed opinions based on incomplete second-hand information..."----

    Of course you've never been guilty of that.

  • Jack Flash Dec 23, 2009

    "never ceases to amaze me, the judgemental crowd of losers on WRAL that come out of the woodwork in the event of a major tragedy."
    Hear, hear. And then they have the gall to claim they are educating people and dissecting news stories, when all they are really doing is offering arrogant, uninformed opinions based on incomplete second-hand information.

  • Common Sense Man Dec 23, 2009

    "never ceases to amaze me, the judgemental crowd of losers on WRAL that come out of the woodwork in the event of a major tragedy."

    This isn't a prayer board. People who aren't emotionally connected to an event come here to comment. If you hate it so much don't visit the comment section.

  • down by the pond Dec 23, 2009

    From the footage it does not appear to be a crossing where there is much to distract a driver. My mind goes to a couple of thoughts, the first being postpartum depression , undiagnosed.
    I just cannot fathom a young mother with a baby and 5 year old crossing a RR with arms down to be so distracted, you would think she would be overly cautious,,, knowing what happened in Durham.. I am sorry but i would rather it be pp depression than texting,,, which is totally preventable.
    only the family knows if she has had signs of depression. This story makes me so sad. We may never know what caused this tragedy.

  • uncw05 Dec 23, 2009

    hollylama - I've said it once in this thread, and I'll say it again: If speculating over my demise helps save another life because someone learned a lesson from it, speculate away. It would be a way to make a good thing come from a bad.

  • hollylama Dec 23, 2009

    Truly a sad situation...its unfortunate we spend so much energy and time speculating about what could have been done or what "we" would have done differently...but the truly sad part is we are left to speculate at the loss of other people's lives. Do we truly value our own if thats how we treat people who are no longer with us. If I passed I certainly wouldn't want people speculating about MY demise.

  • gman007 Dec 23, 2009

    leo, so true. I think the trooper may have been right tho. Click on picture #3 for a closer look. The drivers side door looks fairly undamaged, the right side of the car has extensive damage. Note how the middle of the roof is forced up and in and the rear window is totally gone. While it's not conclusive my WAG would be she was on the track.

  • leo-nc Dec 23, 2009

    Witnesses aren't necessarily reliable in accident cases. This is one of the first things you learn in collision investigation. I would go with what the train camera showed and what the rest of the evidence proved. Having said that, she killed herself trying to save herself a few seconds of time. Sad.