Richmond Valley Councillor killed in head-on crash
A second victim, a middle-aged man who was well regarded in the small coastal community, and driving in a separate vehicle, was also killed.
The crash brings to four the number of people killed on Northern Rivers roads this week, with a young man dying yesterday after a crash near Kyogle on Wednesday, and a Melbourne truckie killed in a crash on the Pacific Highway.
The vehicles were travelling in opposite directions when they collided shortly after 5pm, on a 100km/h straight section of road at the junction of the Woodburn-Evans Head and Blue Pool roads.
Police, ambulance and the Woodburn SES were all on the scene, with the Ballina Crash Investigation Unit arriving about 6.30pm to investigate. Police diverted traffic around the crash site through Broadwater.
Cr Jeffery, aged in his early 70s, was well regarded in the coastal community for his stubborn and loyal approach to local politics. His very last concern before the crash involved public toilets in the CBD. He had aired those concerns while volunteering as a community cricket coach.
His close ally in Richmond Valley Council was Coraki resident Norma Thomas, who retired from politics at the last local elections.
“Not only has Ray’s family lost a terrific family man, but so has the whole of the Richmond Valley...the whole of local government,” she said. “You wouldn’t get a more honourable, more people-serving man than Ray. He copped a lot of abuse by fellow councillors, but he stuck to his guns.
“I’ve served on lots of councils with Ray, like the Richmond River County Council (flood mitigation body), and he was one of the finest councillors. He always represented the people and was never an ego-tripper. His is a dreadful loss to local government, certainly to Richmond Valley Council.”
Cr Jeffery started his working life in the Royal Australian Navy, spending six years in the service and learning the hard road to discipline. After he was discharged he managed several hotels around Sydney, before running a liquor store in the Southern Highlands with his wife Barbara – his life-long partner. During the 16 years the pair lived there he cut his teeth in local government, serving as councillor with Wingecarribee Shire for 11 of those years.
In 1989, the couple moved to Evans Head and bought a liquor store in Woodburn Street, now known as Coastal Cellars.
Soon after arriving he was voted on to the Richmond River Shire, serving through amalgamation – which he opposed – to remain on the Richmond Valley Council. He was involved with many community groups.