According to the Highway Patrol, the Carolinian struck a vehicle at Mount Willing and Southern roads in western Orange County Tuesday around 10:30 a.m. The train was traveling east, headed for Durham from Greensboro.
Authorties say 26-year-old Erin Brett Lindsay-Calkins made a right turn onto Mount Willing Road and attempted to cross the railroad tracks, striking the crossing bar.
Her car continued across the tracks and was struck by the Amtrak train.
Eyewitnesses said they heard a boom, and a boy was thrown from the vehicle. Lindsay-Calkins was still in the car after the collision, where she was pronounced dead.
Police later identified the boy as 5-year-old Nicholas Lindsay. They say he died at the scene.
A second child, 4-month-old Avan Brooke Lindsay, was rushed to UNC Hospital. She is in fair condition.
Eyewitnesses managed to rescue the infant.
"I was talking to this baby and telling her to just hang on," witness Bess Bean said. "Hopefully everything is going to turn out for the good for this baby."
Neighbor John Moore says Lindsey-Calkins' husband, Mike, is holding up as best he can.
"It's not good, but he has a 3, 4-month-old little girl he's got to work on now, that's his main focus," he said.
The eyewitnesses said Lindsay-Calkins reportedly drove around the gates.
Residents near the crossing have complained about the gates in the past.
"I have seen trains come down several times without the arms going down," Efland resident Shannon Andrews said. "It's been several years ago, but it's been an ongoing problem."
Norfolk Southern says monitoring equipment shows the gates were functioning properly at the time of the crash.
The Highway Patrol says it is continuing to investigate the collision.
The NC DOT Rail Division says the last known crash at the Mount Willing and Southern roads crossing was in 1980. It was not fatal.