Call From Beyond: Urban Myth Rings True

A little over a year ago, on the 12th of September at 4:22 in the afternoon, a commuter train crashed in San Fernando Valley in California. The train wreck was a tragic loss of 25 lives, one of which was 49 year-old Charles. E. Peck. The tragic loss of Peck’s life was not enough, however, to keep him from making 35 phone calls from his cell phone to family members over the course of the next 12 hours. It was indeed an eerie afterthought when Peck’s body was discovered and the coroner ruled that Peck had died instantly during the wreck.

The first call happened shortly after the wreck, but when Peck’s family answered the phone, all they could hear was a strange disembodied and unintelligible static bleeding through. Imagine receiving a phone call from someone you don’t know is dead or alive repeatedly, knowing they were likely injured or possibly in a world between worlds, then as you answer the phone hearing only static. You yell into the phone, trying to get a hold of the voice behind the chaos coming through the earpiece, only to have it cut out. A few minutes after you hang up the phone, it rings again. The name on the caller ID is the missing person. This is exactly what happened to several of Peck’s family members over the net 12 hours. It should be noted that Peck’s phone only contacted people he had felt close to in life, though several contacts were in Peck’s phone book.

His son, his fiancée, his stepmother, his sister, and his brother were all contacted, but were unable to get anything beyond the haunting static. There is no known cell phone error or glitch that would cause this to happen automatically without some compelling external force.

Charles Peck’s family kept getting the impression that he was calling them over and over to let them know he was okay. Is that what he was doing? Perhaps he was unaware of his own death, and wanted to comfort his loved ones and discover the nature of his predicament. It was, however, the signals from his phone that eventually allowed authorities to discover his body hidden amongst the train’s wreckage. Though the body was discovered, his phone is missing to this day.

In a world where some people find it more and more difficult to subsist without their cell phones, are we going to find that technophiles must have their gadgets even beyond the grave? Consider this, ghosts are always seen wearing the clothing they did in life. Is it beyond belief then to estimate that the ghost is not just the body itself, but the perception a person has of themselves continuing into the grave? If our own perceptions include the clothes we wear, could it then also include the items we carry to communicate? How far of a stretch is it, then, that a human being would consider a cell-phone a part of their identity? The next time you get a phone call from an unknown number, and hear nothing but static on the other end, it may be worthwhile to remember the story of Charles Peck.