Family, friends mourn death of woman killed in texting-related Zebulon wreck
Posted May 30
Updated May 31
Zebulon, N.C. — 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.