(Aug. 28) -- Christopher Kaiser spent early Friday morning on a railroad bridge in North Carolina's
Iredell County. He and a dozen others were hoping to catch a glimpse of a ghost train -- the chilling apparition of a passenger train that came off the tracks there in 1891, killing 30 people.
Instead, these ghost hunters encountered something far scarier: a real locomotive train hurtling towards them on a track that was 150 feet from safety.
Kaiser and the others tried to get away with some falling as much as 40 feet to escape the locomotive. Most escaped.
Kaiser was struck by the train and killed.
"They probably didn't hear the train coming until the last minute," Iredell County Sheriff's Capt. Darren Campbell told The Charlotte Observer
According to local legend, an apparition of the 1891 Bostian's Bridge crash appears every year on the anniversary of the accident, complete with screaming passengers and grinding metal.
It has even become something of a local industry, with memorabilia such as T-shirts for sale to the spook hunters who gather each year. Nearly 300 gathered there in 1991 for the 100th anniversary.
"We were there looking for what people say happened. You hear the train wreck or hear people screaming. We were just watching," one woman told a local CNN
Campbell said he has never met anyone who had seen the ghost train, though there are sometimes reports of railroad barriers falling for no apparent reason.
Engineers on board the real locomotive sounded the horn and did their best to stop the train, the Statesville Record & Landmark reported.
Kaiser's mother told a local CNN affiliate that the family was too distraught to discuss the accident.
Most of the ghost hunters were from out of town. Some fled from police investigators because they were trespassing on the railroad property.
According to the blog CreepyNC.com
, the site of the crash is haunted by the ghost of Hugh Linster. He was the baggage master for the railroad, and was winding his new watch just before the accident.
According to the blog, Linster's ghost appears at the scene, accompanied with the sound of a terrible accident. The ghost will ask for the correct time, tip his hat, and vanish.
"Linster goes looking for the correct time," the blog says. "Perhaps he always will."