Local News

Mother, son killed in train-car wreck; baby survives

Posted December 22, 2009 11:35 a.m. EST
Updated December 29, 2009 6:17 a.m. EST

— A young Efland mother and her 5-year-old son died Tuesday when their car collided with an Amtrak train, investigators with the state Highway Patrol said.

Erin Brett Lindsay-Calkins, 26, drove under the crossbars at the railroad crossing at Southern Drive and Mount Willing Road and had stopped on the tracks when the train slammed into her Toyota, troopers said.

"I happened to be looking at the crossway when it happened and heard the boom," said Gayle Emory, who works across from the intersection. "The Amtrak (train) hit the car and spun it around."

Lindsay-Calkins and her son, Nicholas Lindsay, 5, died in the collision. A second child, 4-month-old Aven Brooke Lindsay-Calkins, survived the wreck.

"It just makes your heart sick," Emory said.

Troopers said all three occupants of the car were properly restrained.

Emory said she called 911 and went outside. She saw a car seat on the ground, and another woman found Aven inside the car, Emory said.

"The baby had just a small contusion on the forehead," Emory said.

Aven was transported to UNC Hospitals where she was listed in fair condition Tuesday afternoon.

The train, Amtrak's No. 80 from Charlotte to Durham, was carrying 215 passengers. None of them was injured. The train was delayed by 2 hours and 15 minutes.

A witness said the lights were flashing and the gates were down at the crossing when Lindsay-Calkins hit the lowered gates.

A spokeswoman for Norfolk Southern said the company has fielded 11 calls in the past year from people reporting problems with the crossing. A malfunction was reported in one of the cases in which a defective breaker needed repair, said spokeswoman Robin Chapman.

The other cases dealt with a broken light or gate, typically caused by drivers trying to cross the intersection during or after the warning lights and gate were triggered, according to Chapman.

Paul Worley, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the state was not aware of any problems with the crossing. He said an estimated 7,000 vehicles per day pass through the crossing, and the tracks there handle 12 trains per day at a maximum speed of 79 mph.

Worley said the last wreck at that crossing was in January 1980.

Later Tuesday, at the Lindsay-Calkins house in Efland, neighbors gathered to help the father, who they said is devastated.

"If someone came to you and said, 'Your wife and kid are dead,'" neighbor John Moore said, his voice trailing off. "(He's) not doing well."

Moore remembered the children playing at his house during a visit a few days ago.

"To see it all go away, it is not good," he said.

Tuesday's collision is the second this month between a train and car at a railroad crossing. Brothers Calvin Brandon, 9, and Hassan Bingham, 6, died Dec. 10 when their mother's Ford Explorer was hit by a train near the intersection of Ellis Road and Angier Avenue in Durham.