Jeff Ray, a versatile musician whose main gig was playing in the band for “Jersey Boys,” was killed Saturday after he was struck by a train in Washington state.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe said Ray, 42, was struck and killed by an Amtrak train while posing for a photograph in Auburn, Wash., about 30 minutes south of Seattle.
He was unable to get out of the way of a southbound train traveling 79 mph, said Auburn police spokesman Mike Hirman, via The Seattle Times.
Ray apparently was posing with Mount Rainier in the background, said BNSF spokesman Gus Melonas.
Ray had taken a few nights off from his longtime job as second guitarist for the Broadway musical at Paris Las Vegas, traveling to Washington to play a casino lounge show with a group called The Jone$.
“I called him our most valuable player,” said Keith Thompson, conductor of “Jersey Boys.” Ray had been affiliated with “Jersey Boys” since the show first came to Las Vegas in 2010. He started as a substitute, then moved into the full time ensemble the next year as a guitarist who is also called upon to play drums at points in the show.
“He was a great guitar player,” Thompson said.
Ray had played for several Las Vegas shows, including Boyz II Men, “The Lion King,” “Mamma Mia!” and “Voices” with Lani Misalucha. He released a solo recording “The Walkup,” and recorded three discs with the jazz quintet The Onus.
Ray also taught jazz guitar performance at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Ray and a manager traveling with the band had gotten onto the tracks through an open crossing on C Street Southwest, Hirman said.
“We cannot emphasize enough how important that the public realize that the trains move on any track, at any time, at any direction. Please be aware of our no trespassing policy,” Melonas said.
Melonas said Ray’s friend was taking the photos when he was hit by the train. She was not hurt.
Amtrak spokeswoman Vernae Graham says the Amtrak Cascades train was carrying about 130 passengers from Portland, Ore., to Seattle. Some passengers went by bus to Seattle while others waited until the train got moving again.
This is the second fatality on BNSF property in Washington this year. There were 20 deaths last year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report