Kashima Rebecca Marie Brunn, 25, drove off the side of the highway near Angier Avenue, went down an embankment and hit a tree at about 4:50 a.m. Tuesday, authorities said. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Brunn's son, Alex, was strapped in his car seat in the back seat and escaped injury, authorities said. The infant was taken to Duke University Hospital as a precaution.
"It was very shocking to know about the accident, completely. But it was a great relief to know the baby survived," said Margot Pettiford, Alex's great-grandmother.
Al Cleveland, Alex's father and Brunn's boyfriend, said he talked to Brunn about 30 minutes before the wreck. He said she hadn't been drinking and was simply taking a drive.
Authorities also said they didn't believe alcohol played a role in the wreck, which remains under investigation.
Brunn, a native of Saint Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, also leaves behind two other children. Cleveland said he would make sure Alex knows about his mother as he grows up.
"I'm going to tell him everything about his mom, everything I can remember. She loved him to death," he said.
Despite the tragedy, the family is focusing on Alex.
"He can tell his children, glory to God, what he come through – that accident – how he survived that accident," Pettiford said.
"I get to the hospital to see the baby, and the baby didn't have a scratch on him, not a nick," Cleveland said. "For him to survive, it's strictly a blessing from God. It's a blessing."