A fatal accident punctuates this week in ghost hunting as an avoidable tragedy claims the life of one North Carolina ghost hunter as they await confirmation of a ghost train on the 119th anniversary of the legend’s origin. The incident reminds us all of the terrible price some pay when the thrill of ghost hunting is not observed with due precautions and research.
It all began on August 27th 1891 when a train loaded with passengers was derailed and crashed off Iredell County’s Third Creek Bridge claiming the lives of thirty people. The wreck itself was a tragedy that would make headlines across the country. And then as time wore on witnesses would report that the tragic incident would be followed by subsequent appearances of a disturbing ghost train which would recreate the massive tragedy. And with the popularity of amateur ghost hunting on the rise, the 119th anniversary would seem the perfect time to take another look at the mystery. That night as twelve ghost hunters assembled on the bridge to take readings and examine the area, unbeknownst to the ghost hunters a train was hurtling down the tracks.
The conductor, upon seeing the assembled crowd on the bridge attempted to stop in time as the group hurried to escape the train’s path, but unfortunately was unable to avoid striking Christopher Kaiser, who was killed. The incident was reported by The Charlotte Observer who quoted Sherrif’s Captain Darren Campbell, “They probably didn’t hear the train coming until the last minute.”
The tragedy reminds us that while ghost hunting is a positive and enjoyable hobby (and profession for many), safety is a key component that should concern not only the group leader, but every member of the group as well. It’s unknown whether or not those assembled at the train tracks were aware of the railroad still being in use.
Basic safety precautions extend to the legality of many investigations as well. Many places that are off limits or considered trespassing are closed to the public not only because they are private property, but also because the environments may be dangerous. There are plenty of locations for legitimate ghost hunts and tours both guided and unguided, and official channels through which ghost hunters can gain authorized access to locations. And proper background research may be a requirement as well to ensure there aren’t any dangers in a given location. Since many haunted locations have been abandoned for a long time, this makes the buildings more likely to have structural degradation making falls and debris a concern to many. When ghost hunting be vigilant and thorough, but stay safe.
This incident is not the first this year where a ghost hunt has turned tragic. Earlier this year two teens investigating a haunted asylum had to be rushed to a hospital when they jumped off a cliff in order to evade police. And there is no doubt that as the hobby gains popularity, an emphasis on safety will be required to avoid future tragedies.