Local News

Report: Mom was on cell phone when train hit

Posted December 30, 2009

— An Efland woman killed last week in a train-car collision ran through the crossing gate while talking on a cell phone, the state Highway Patrol said in a report released Wednesday.

Erin Brett Lindsay-Calkins, 26, and her 5-year-old son, Nicholas Lindsay, were killed in the Dec. 22 wreck, which happened at the railroad track at Southern Drive and Mount Willing Road in Efland. Her 4-month-old daughter was injured but survived.

The Highway Patrol concluded after interviewing witnesses and meeting with Amtrak officials that Lindsay-Calkins was traveling west on Forest Drive and made a right turn onto Mount Willing Road, where she traveled under the railroad crossing bar into the path of the Amtrak train.

"The investigation determined that Mrs. Lindsay-Calkins failed to stop at a duly marked railroad crossing," Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Jeff Gordon said in a news release.

Investigators also found that the gate was operating properly.

The collision was the second in December between a train and car at a railroad crossing. Brothers Calvin Brandon, 9, and Hassan Bingham, 6, were killed died Dec. 10 when a train hit their mother's SUV at the intersection of Ellis Road and Angier Avenue in Durham.

In that case, investigators said the crossing arm went down on the windshield as the boys' mother was stuck in traffic. She tried to back up and move forward to get off the tracks, but the train hit the back end of the vehicle before she could finish maneuvering.

The boys were not wearing their seat belts, police said.


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  • meredith06alum Jan 1, 2010

    you people have nothing better to do with your lives then talk bad about someone you don't even know. this hurts me as Erin's first cousin to read comments like she's dumb or whatever. she was NOT talking on the phone. wral as well as many other news stories don't even know the FACTS. no phone bills were pulled yet. so they don't even know what's the truth. i hate the news for this reason and this is why i never READ or LISTEN to it. it's all garbage, like mike said!!

  • LocalYokel Jan 1, 2010

    since its on Facebook, it must be the truth.

  • dont-be-a-hater Dec 31, 2009

    This from the dad as posted on facebook: Michael Calkins... Just to let everyone know she was not talking to anyone on the cell phone the cops never retrieved the phone or looked at the phone bill. The media is all garbage.

  • Lone Voice in the Wilderness Dec 31, 2009

    I think the issue here is being missed. While talking on the cell phone & driving is probably worse than drinking & driving, the issue that people should be talking about is the lack of respect that comes with most train crossings.

    Every railroad crossing presents a real danger. People get impatient, so then the rail company has to build red lights & bells. People get more impatient, so then the rail company has to build gates. Still, people act stupidly. Then we get the gates that show up on Blue Ridge & Hillsborough. The railroad has to build 4-way crossing gates to prevent people from passing around the gates IN THE OPPOSING TRAFFIC'S LANE. That is just plain STUPID.

    Yes, some trains are long and move painfully slowly. Sometimes you can re-route your drive. Other times, you just have to wait. Trying to outrun the train leads to tragedy.

  • concerncitizen Dec 31, 2009

    needmocash, I don't think so? I think what happen was she was on the track the arms trapped her and she panicked, and never really tried to just bust through the arms? Most of this is seen by camera that is mounted in the front of the train. Or! She saw the train in time, but because the traffic was so heavy she was not able to get off the tracks before the arms came down? We'll probably never know because no other negligence was involved in the wreck. No other cars prevented her from backing up or going forward in the few moments, when she saw the train and the arms actually came down?

  • concerncitizen Dec 31, 2009

    mileagewarrior, let's see if I can get you to see what possibly happen. While driving on a familiar street, have you ever travel a short distanced and not remember passing a spot you know is there, but this day you don't remember passing that spot? I guess is that is what is happening when you're on the phone. So much of your attention is on the phone that your eyes don't even see the danger coming until it is to late? That! Is why talking on the phone while driving is so dangerous! Your eyes are open, but nothing you are seeing is getting to your consciousness, it is all being distracted by the phone! That's how you drive right thought the arms, into the back of a trailer, into a wall, etc.... Of course she saw it, but she didn't! FOLKS STOP DOING IT!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Dec 31, 2009

    Another reason for the nanny state to exert more control in our life.

  • LocalYokel Dec 31, 2009

    justiceforall, no - that is not the deal. A law banning cell phone use while driving will help. Sure, there will always be people that do not follow the law and the law may be difficult to enforce BUT the law would have several positive effects. A law banning cell phone use while driving would increase the awareness of the issue and some people will actually make an effort to obey the law.

    so, justiceforall, we are not 'ALL DOOMED', only those of you that don't think rationally and learn from your mistakes are 'doomed'.

  • wildcat Dec 31, 2009

    I hope we all learn something from this tragedy. If not it will all be in vain. Obey all railroad crossing rules and regulations.

  • wildcat Dec 31, 2009

    It's sad that WRAL buried this follow up story.

    WRAL thanks for keeping us all updated on this story. Trouble is cell-phones users don't listen and pay attention. You all do a great job. THANKS! HAVE A GREAT NEWS YEARS AND CONTINUE TO BRING US GREAT NEWS!