Woman, grandson perish in Saturday crash

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A woman and her nine-year-old grandson perished Saturday morning as they stopped at her mailbox before they left to go Christmas shopping, according to news reports and official statements.

A train headed north collided at about 9:15 a.m. with the white 2000 Chevrolet Monte Carlo driven by Wanda Gayle Shirley, 61, of 6238 Nashville Highway in the Holt's Corner Community, Tennessee Highway Patrol Trooper James Crump reported Saturday evening.

Shirley and her grandson perished during the collision, Crump said. The boy was identified by a Chapel Hill-area church prayer list on the Internet as Michael Polk. He, too, died in the crash.

The collision was near the Holts Corner Market, according to Tribune news sources and law enforcement officers.

It was "one car versus the train at a private crossing," Chapel Hill Police Chief Jackie King said by cell phone from the scene.

Sheriff's Deputy Keith Jolley assisted Crump, as did King and Chapel Hill Police Patrolman Chris Cook.

Shirley and Polk were "heading out for Christmas shopping when they stopped to check the mail," according to wsmv.com. "Their mailbox is near the railroad tracks."

Trooper Crump responded to the call received by his dispatcher at 9:23 a.m., THP Dispatcher Jennifer Curtis said. Tribune news sources reported the Chapel Hill Fire Department also responded, as did investigators and agents for CSX Transportation.

"Shirley attempted to cross the tracks on a private road and was struck by the train," wsmv.com reported on Saturday, as did information provided by Tribune news sources.