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A birthday party turned tragic when a Lucama woman was struck and killed by a train Saturday night near the Wilson County line.
Authorities were dispatched around 5:30 p.m. to the 9000 block of Lefty Road outside Kenly, which backs up to the railroad tracks. Family members said Lynn Brewer, 61, was taking photos with three other women near the train tracks when an Amtrak train came through and Brewer was unable to clear the tracks. She died at the scene.
“I am completely in shock,” said Tammy Evans, a neighbor of Brewer and her husband of 21 years. “It is really unreal. We are just trying to deal day by day — actually it is hour by hour.”
The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the crash, but no one was available to comment by press time. Kimberly Woods, a media relations representative with Amtrak, said the incident involved the Carolinian train that originated in New York and was bound for Charlotte. There were 135 passengers on the train at the time and service resumed after about two hours.
A funeral for Brewer will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Wilson Memorial Service on Fieldstream Drive.
“She was the sweetest, kindest and most trustworthy person you’d ever meet,” said Lynn Wilson, Evans’ mother and Brewer’s neighbor. “She lived life to the fullest.”
Brewer worked for Pitt County Schools for 31 years, teaching third grade at Falkland Elementary School for 25 of those years. Evans said Brewer’s love for children was obvious not only throughout her career, but also in her role as a stepmother and step-grandmother.
“She was great with Mark’s kids. She loved them as her own and absolutely loved Brayden,” Evans said of Brewer’s step-grandson, whose underdeveloped optic nerve left him blind. “She wanted everything for him to be as normal as possible. She did everything she could to get him to all his therapies and I’d see her pushing him in his little car, just spending quality time with him whenever she could.”
Evans and Brewer not only were neighbors for nearly three decades in Wilson County, but the duo also were neighbors at Emerald Isle, where the 61-year-old and her husband were set to go following the party Saturday. Evans said the fast friends also had scheduled a month worth of weekend plans this holiday season to spend time together. The loss is devastating, she said.
“She was an absolutely wonderful person. She made everyone smile and I don’t think anyone could say anything bad about her because I never knew her to have any bad words for anyone in all the years I knew her,” Evans said. “She had the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen. I think what most people noticed first about her were her eyes and that smile.
“She was always smiling every time you saw her.”
Times reporter Drew C. Wilson contributed to this story.