Zebulon man mourns loss of wife; urges others to not text and drive
Posted May 31
Zebulon, N.C. — Darryl Claybourne said the crash that claimed the life of his wife Monday morning robbed him of his “soulmate” and made clear the very serious dangers of texting and driving.
"When you're texting, your head is down, and in a split second if you're not looking, you're going to take somebody's life," Claybourne said.
Erik Christian Hicks, 41, of Knightdale, told police he looked down at a text as he was driving on U.S. Highway 64 Monday and didn’t see the van driven by Judy Claybourne as it pulled into his lane.
"I thought she was OK, but it didn't work out that way," Darryl Claybourne said. "That was my soulmate. No matter what, we stuck together."
Troopers said Hicks, who was transported to WakeMed with non-life-threatening injuries, did not slow down before colliding with Claybourne's vehicle. Hicks admitted to members of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol that he was texting at the time of the collision and that he did not see the van.
He has been charged with texting while driving and failure to wear a seatbelt.
The Claybournes and their daughter, Ameerah, were headed home to Zebulon after spending a long weekend visiting relatives in Philadelphia.
Darryl Claybourne and his wife had just switched positions so that she was driving, and Judy Claybourne pulled back onto the road in front of Hicks. 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. Darryl and Ameerah were taken to WakeMed with serious injuries.
Hicks could face more serious charges once a full report is turned over to the Wake County District Attorney, authorities said.
"They will look at that information and then they will decide if additional charges are warranted," Gordon said.
Claybourne said he hopes the tragedy will send a message.
"She might be in a better place. I am going to miss her. My daughter is going to miss her," he said. "This is the result of texting and driving. Don't do it. Please don’t do it."
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.
The investigation is ongoing.