Local News

Family, friends mourn death of woman killed in texting-related Zebulon wreck

Posted May 30, 2016
Updated May 31, 2016

— A 53-year-old woman was killed and her husband and 16-year-old daughter were critically injured early Monday in a two-vehicle wreck on U.S. Highway 64 near Zebulon.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol troopers say Darryl Claybourne, of Zebulon, was driving home with his wife, Judy Marie Claybourne, and his daughter, Ameerah, after spending a long weekend visiting relatives in Philadelphia.

The family was traveling in a 2008 Pontiac van west on U.S. 64 at about 6 a.m. when Claybourne pulled onto the right shoulder of the highway near Debnam Road to switch positions with wife, who was riding in the passenger seat.

At that time, Erik Christian Hicks, 42, of Knightdale, was also traveling west on U.S. 64 in a 2002 GMC Envoy. When Judy Claybourne, now situated in the driver's seat, pulled onto the roadway from the right shoulder, Hicks ran into the rear of the Pontiac, forcing the van off the highway and into a nearby wooded area, where it overturned.

Judy Claybourne was pronounced dead at the scene, and her husband and 16-year-old daughter were taken to WakeMed with serious injuries.

Troopers said Hicks, who was transported to WakeMed with non-life-threatening injuries, did not slow down before colliding with Claybourne's vehicle. Investigators have determined that Hicks was texting at the time of the collision and that he did not see the van.

Hicks has been charged with texting while driving and failure to wear a seatbelt.

Claybourne leaves behind not just her injured daughter and husband but a neighborhood full of people who are mourning her death.

According to families who lived near the Claybourne family, "She was the one in the neighborhood who rounded all the kids up every Sunday and took them to church, even if it took her four or five trips to get there." Another neighbor said they had planned to grill out with the Claybourne family for Memorial Day.

Claybourne's husband and daughter were in critical condition at WakeMed late Monday morning.

Hicks has a previous DWI conviction, but investigators said there was no evidence of alcohol use in Monday's wreck. Hicks car was equipped with an intoxilyzer, which requires a driver to blow into it before the car will start.


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  • Bernadette Dan Unger May 31, 2016
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    Just got back home from Sanford and cannot count the number of people driving with a cell phone stuck to their face. Yeah I know, not texting, but same device being used instead of driving the darn car. I don't care if they used the shoulder to change drivers, or that she pulled onto the roadway and got hit, this guy was texting and the law needs to step up and do something. Hicks can be thankful for one thing.....this was not my family. (Dan)

  • John Townsend May 31, 2016
    user avatar

    First off, never pull onto the shoulder just to change drivers, use a rest area, gas station, whatever but not the shoulder. Never use the shoulder of a highway unless it is unavoidable. (Your kid needing to pee or changing drivers does not necessitate stopping on the shoulder)

    Secondly, based on the description, Claybourne pulled out onto the highway in front of Hicks who might have been able to avoid her had he not been distracted.

    Had this gone the other way, had Claybourne survived and Hicks died, I suspect Claybourne would have been charged.

    Seems that this could have been avoided had either Claybourne or Hicks been paying better attention or better yet, had the Claybourne's pulled off at an exit to change drivers rather than picking a dangerous place to stop.

  • Jim Halbert May 31, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Isn't that the solution to any problem though? Kill enough people doing something wrong, and everyone will eventually stop doing it! Why don't we solve all our problems like that? It's worked so well with the death penalty and reducing actual murder.

    "you are knowingly and intentionally endangering every one else on the road."

    Same with doing anything that requires you taking your eyes off the road. Changing the radio station, or checking on your kid in the backseat. These things kill people too. But because texting is a much more divisive activity than those other things, we better jump to the harshest punishments we can think of! Would help solve that overpopulation problem as well. Two birds, one bullet.

  • Eric Hammond May 31, 2016
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    why is this guy not charged with "felony reckless endangerment" ?? If you text while driving you are knowingly and intentionally endangering every one else on the road. It's the same as discharging a firearm into a crowd, not caring who you hit! In fact, it's worse than driving drunk because you don't have alcohol impairing your judgment as to whether or not you are sober enough to drive! time to end the texting and driving - Oh, and any death caused during the commission of a felony (accident or not) mandates a 1st degree murder charge - try and fry a few of these sorry people who think their cell phone is more important than anyone or anything else and maybe people will get the message... until then drive defensively - VERY defensively

  • Rhonda Tew May 31, 2016
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    What ever happened to JASON AARON JONES who drove his Porsche into a pedestrian in I-40 on January 27, 2016 and killing him? These drivers must be held accountable.

  • Tom Slaughter May 31, 2016
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    While she may have been partly to blame for evidently pulling out from a dead stop on the side of a very busy highway, the blame is 100% of the guy that was texting. If he had not been texting he would have seen her pull out, and could have taken evasive action to try and avoid hitting her. This stuff happens all the time, in all states. People pull out in front of fast moving traffic without seeming to even try and gauge how fast the oncoming traffic is going, and either wait, or allow space to get up to speed and merge in. If he had been totally alert, he would have first seen the car by the road, possibly with brake lights on at least, and then see the movement and acted to avoid a collision. The fault is totally his, and he should also be charge with death by motor vehicle. One life lost, two in critical condition, all because of a 'need' to text. No excuse. None. My phone will not receive or send texts while I'm driving.

  • Jim Halbert May 31, 2016
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    The guy texting was also charged for "failure to wear a seatbelt". What!? Who still drives without wearing a seatbelt in 2016? I thought all those stupid people died off in the 90s. Combine that with judgement used to text while driving and I don't see how anyone could give this guy the benefit of the doubt in any vehicle related accident.

  • Amanda Alston May 31, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Were you there? Did you visit the scene? Do you know if there was a curve or anything there? Your position is that she pulled out without making sure it was clear... Is it possible she made sure it was clear before she pulled out and he came up traveling a reasonable rate of speed while looking at his phone and hit her?

  • Paul Donovan May 31, 2016
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    I have just never understood why people feel they need to text while driving. I don't totally blame him for this accident but he certainly contributed to it.

  • Paul Donovan May 31, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    Really ? And what makes you such an exceptional driver to criticize the driving abilities of an entire state?