Rachel Erlandson with boyfriend Sam Connie.
Tears and tributes for adored shire members Dixie and her daughter Rachel Erlandson have flooded the Bellinger Valley.
The tragedy unfolded on Friday afternoon when emergency services were called to the Pacific Highway near Valla Beach Rd after reports of a collision between an ambulance and a small car.
Driver of the Nissan Pulsar, 17-year-old Rachel, and front passenger, 50-year-old Dixie from Valla, died at the location.
The ambulance contained two ambulance paramedics, a doctor and a nurse who were taken to hospital for treatment with non-life threatening injuries. They have since been discharged.
Dixie was the president of the Urunga Football Club. She was instrumental in establishing the Junior Six-A-Side competition and her commitment to the local sporting community was widely acknowledged, appreciated and “will be very sorrowfully missed”.
In addition, Dixie dedicated many years as member of Urunga Public School’s P&C committee, where she was described as a much-loved friend.
“Dixie worked tirelessly for our community. Whether it be in the capacity as accountant, or taking up positions as treasurer or auditor for so many community groups and organisations,” a community member said.
“She was always at school, helping out at the canteen or at soccer or Little Athletics. She cooked a great sausage sizzle!
“She was always smiling and always generous. She was a loyal friend and protective mum. She was so proud of her children. She was very respected and loved in our community”.
Year 12 student, Rachel, attended UPS before heading off to Bishop Druitt College where she had just completed her HSC.
Friends described Rachel as “an intelligent young woman with a generous heart” and as having “the world at her feet, to do with, what she dreamed”.
“Rachel was just starting her life … She’d just finished her HSC,” a close friend said.
“She was beautiful, inside and out. Excelled academically and in sport.
“Always helped out like her mum. A beautiful heart. A supportive sister and daughter”.
Rachel’s younger sister, Jess, is in Year 8 at BDC. Her older brother, Andrew, finished at in 2010. Dixie and Rachel leave behind Dave Halverson, Dixie’s partner; and Rachel’s father, Peter.
While the shockwaves will be felt in the community for a long time, it’s clear to those who knew them “we have lost two angels whose life was taken too soon”.
Vale – Dixie Erlandsen – Urunga Football ClubDixie Erlandsen was a prominent community achiever in the Bellinger Valley. She was actively involved in a range of community support, many of which focussed on developing kid’s skills. Her extraordinary passion & dedication has had a marked effect on all community organisations that she has been involved in.
Dixie tirelessly strived to achieve significant outcomes for Urunga Football club. Some of her many achievements in the club include:
After two years as president, she had just accepted a third year in the position. She is the club’s first woman president. Previously Dixie was the junior’s Treasurer, a position she successfully managed for many years.
She introduced Holiday Fast Fleet clinics in Urunga – where the North Coast Football development squad & representative players (all from Urunga Football Club members) became the coaches.
Instrumental in introducing under 6 & 7 age pre-season coaching to promote junior football. Once again, the qualified coaches were drawn from Urunga Football Club members.
Ensuring all juniors are trained as referees to not only develop player skills, etiquette & a better understanding of the game, but also to give juniors further opportunities and ensure there were no shortages of referees.
In 2015, getting the club to agree on consistent club colours, a feat that had not been achieved since the amalgamation of the juniors & the seniors in 2008.
In 2015, as president, was recognised by her achievements with acceptance of the “2015 NFL Club” of the year award. She also personally received the “2015 club person of the year”, as voted by her club peers.
In 2015 introducing Juniors into the summer SixA Side competition, and then managing it.
Dixie put her heart and soul into ensuring junior players within the club were given every opportunity to develop. She strived to ensure all juniors were treated equally & fairly.
Urunga Football Club honours and respects the many achievements of Dixie. Whilst the club is strong, it will take considerable effort for everyone to come to terms with losing not only a wonderful president but also her daughter, Rachel, who only just completed high school.
* MORE TO COME.
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