Train kills NC woman decorating for relative serviceman’s send-off party

FOUR OAKS, N.C. (WNCN) — A woman was hit and killed by an Amtrak train in Johnston County Saturday afternoon.

Quovadis Blue cries while talking about her aunt.. WNCN photo
Quovadis Blue cries while talking about her aunt (WNCN photo)

CBS North Carolina spoke to the family on Sunday and learned that what was supposed to be a celebration in Four Oaks on Saturday instead turned into a tragedy.

“Something went wrong,” said Quovadis Blue, the niece of the woman who died, Audrey Manning.

Blue and Manning and their entire family were planning a send-off party for Blue’s son, who was shipping off into the US Navy on Sunday.

“She was very excited about this party  — we talked all week [and] she had so many ideas,” said Blue, who struggled with tears as she recalled her aunt.

Blue said that around 3:30 p.m., Manning was setting up decorations behind the house where the party was to be held.

Four Oaks Police Chief Stephen Anderson says the victim was helping to tie balloons for the party and that she was walking from the party site to another house – an area separated by the railroad tracks.

Manning in a photo from her family supplied to WNCN.
Manning in a photo from her family supplied to WNCN.

Anderson says witnesses heard a train whistle, but apparently the victim didn’t.

The planned celebration ended abruptly.

A neighbor showed up a Blue’s home, knocking on the door.

“This man said a train hit something,” Blue said.

Blue said that at first the family thought it could have been an animal that was hit — that was until they found one of Manning’s shoes near the tracks

“I know my aunt. There is no way she would have gone across the train tracks if she heard a train coming. Nobody would have,” Blue said.

Blue said that Manning had just moved back to the area from New York, retiring after working at Columbia University.

She says that Easter Sunday was not the same without her aunt.

“She loved life, she loved her family,” Blue said.

CBS North Carolina asked officials for the speed of the train, and if it was using its signal when coming through town.

Mike Tolbert, a spokesman for Amtrak, says they can’t answer that right now, but more information will be available Monday.

Four Oaks police are investigating.

— The Associated Press contributed this report

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