(Auburn, Washington – January 19, 2014)
A 42-year old entertainer and band member from Las Vegas, NV, in town to play with a cover band at the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, WA, was struck by a Portland-bound Amtrak “Cascades” passenger train as he posed on BNSF Railway tracks in Auburn as a friend and publicist took his picture with famed Mount Rainier as a backdrop.
Jeff Ray, a guitarist with the well-known “Jersey Boys” show band, was posing for shots by Trina Willardson, both of whom had walked through an open crossing on C Street Southwest when the train, with 130 passengers on board, approached from the north at 79 mph. “He was unable to get out of the way,” said Auburn Police Spokesman Mike Hinman.
The photos were to be used in promotion of a new CD album.
Ray, whom Jersey Boys music director Keith Thompson called “a gifted jazz guitarist capable of playing any genre”, became the second BNSF train-related pedestrian fatality to occur in Washington’s King County thus far this year after there were a total of 20 train deaths on BNSF King County rails in 2013.
Thompson told The Las Vegas Sun that “We at Jersey Boys are in shock, total shock, about Jeff’s death. He was a complete and total delight to work with and to be around and was one of the most positive, upbeat, joyous people I’ve known in the business. I called him our most valuable player”.