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A couple killed in an horrific crash with a freight train north of Adelaide are being remembered as dedicated members of their local community, after one moved to the area to help with bushfire recovery four years ago.
Ron Matthews, 73, and Margaret Moffatt, 66, died when their four-wheel-drive collided with a freight train at a level crossing near Mallala which had no boom gates.
Police said the two train drivers hit the emergency brakes upon impact, but the train took nearly its full 1.8-kilometre length to come to a standstill, dragging the car in front of it.
The Mallala community has been shocked by their deaths, with locals saying Mr Matthews had become a much-loved member of the community after volunteering in the wake of the deadly Pinery bushfire in late 2015.
"Ron came here after the 2015 Pinery fires as a member of BlazeAid and did a marvellous job fencing around the place and stayed on," local farmer Jim Franks said.
"[He] absolutely became a part of our community.
"Ron barracked for Collingwood and came from Victoria … he was a lovely bloke."
Mr Franks said Mr Matthews met Ms Moffatt, who had lived in the town for decades, and the pair became partners.
"Together they were great contributors to our community overall, being involved with many organisations," he said.
"Marg worked in the doctor's surgery as a receptionist and [kept] touch with most of the community through that, she helped organise the Christmas parade."
The crash happened outside Mr Franks's property, and he said the couple were taking their dog to a neighbour ahead of a planned holiday when their car was struck.
"The accident was at the crossing to get into our farm," he said.
"They were delivering their little dog to people who live on one of the houses on our farm for the dog to be babysat while they had a few days' holiday.
Police are still investigating the circumstances surrounding the collision, and the flag outside the Mallala Bowling Club is flying at half mast in tribute to the couple.
"[Jim] ran into Marg who was actually member of our club at that time and they really clicked so they settled down with one another," local Lions club chairman Geoff Donlon said.
"Ronnie was always a great worker, he'd always go at things like a bull at a gate. If he injured himself, knock a bit of skin off, he'd dab it with a bit of kero."
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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