WRAL editor known for ‘incredible grace, warmth’ dies from injuries after hit-and-run

·4 min read

A WRAL-TV newsroom employee died from her injuries Tuesday after being struck by a car in a hit-and-run accident on Friday, family members said.

A van heading west on Western Boulevard hit Erin Simanskis as a snowstorm descended on Raleigh in the early evening. She was standing by her vehicle while speaking with the driver of a car with whom she was in a minor collision that night, the Raleigh Police Department said.

Simanskis, 63, had been on life support since the accident after suffering critical injuries, family members told The News & Observer.

Raleigh police said Tuesday they haven’t yet located the van’s driver who hit her and Danny Person, the driver of other vehicle. Person sustained non life-threatening injuries.

The driver of the van fled the scene on foot, the Raleigh Police Department told The N&O.

WRAL reported the incident online and on television early Friday night without knowing at first that the victim was one of their own, the news station reported.

She had just left work and was on her way her home to Cary, Joel Davis, WRAL-TV vice president and general manager, said in an interview Tuesday.

Davis said police informed him that she had been rear-ended near the Western Boulevard exchange with Interstate 440.

‘Incredible grace, warmth’

Simanskis worked an editor and researcher on the weekend assignment desk and for 5 On Your Side since March 2017.

The Canadian expat was known in the fast-paced newsroom as a calming and patient voice amid the frenzy of working with colleagues, sources and viewers who called her with story tips and feedback.

“I think the team here is incredibly devastated by the news of what’s happened to Erin,” said Davis, who has worked at WRAL since 2018. “She worked on the assignment desk, which is really the nerve center of our newsroom operations. It can often be frantic and incredibly busy, and she handled it with incredible grace, warmth and professionalism.”

Erin Simanskis, left, pictured with her husband Ed and her two children, Emily and Eric, outside of their home in Cary.
Erin Simanskis, left, pictured with her husband Ed and her two children, Emily and Eric, outside of their home in Cary.

Simanskis and her family migrated from Canada to North Carolina over two decades ago. She and her husband, Ed, have twin children Eric and Emily, who are 25 years old.

She often raved about her twins to colleagues, Davis said.

“Getting the details that make the story,” Erin Simanskis’ Twitter biography reads. “Believing one’s character is revealed by love of family, baseball & hockey.”

Her daughter, Emily, followed in her footsteps and pursued a career in media. She currently works as a social media coordinator for the Chicago Blackhawks.

A beloved WRAL journalist

Behind the scenes of WRAL’s operations, Simanskis hustled to assign stories, interview sources, send shooting crews and take calls from viewers and readers, “but she did it in a way that you felt that she was taking time for you,” Davis said.

“She handled the news environment but in such a way that it made you feel special. That’s unfortunately all too rare in our industry, but she had a gift for it.”

Current and former colleagues posted tributes to her on social media Tuesday as news of her condition circulated.

“We spend a big chunk of our lives at work. In TV news, we really are family. How grateful we are she was part of it,” tweeted WRAL anchor and reporter Renee Chou. “Let us resolve to be the light that was the essence of Erin #weloveyouandmissyou.”

“A total gut punch,” tweeted colleague Joe Fisher. “Erin Simanskis smiled big, laughed hard & was a tremendous asset to @WRAL. I will miss her very much.”

Davis said he was able to understand the scope of how much Simanskis had impacted the lives of those around her when newsroom staff shared their memories of her with each other.

For people in positions behind the scenes, “you don’t realize the far-reaching impact they’ve had on the people,” he said. “She clearly did.”

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