Club ‘shattered’ by motorcyclist death
A dedicated motorcyclist and true gentleman nicknamed "Pop" has been killed in northern NSW while riding around Australia with six mates.
Wes Carlton, 55, was critically injured in a head-on collision with a Kia Rio at Summerland Way near Runnymede Rd at Kyogle on Sunday afternoon.
He died at the scene.
Mr Carlton was riding with six others at the time who were fellow members of the Brisbane motorcycle chapter Sons of the Southern Cross, three of whom suffered serious injuries.
"It is with heavy heart and many tears that we must confirm that the crash in Kyogle in NSW involved our brothers," the club said in a post on its Facebook page late on Sunday night.
"Saddest of all is the passing of Pop - Wes Carlton - as a result of his injuries which has left the remainder of the chapter, and the club Australia-wide shattered.
"We are of great confidence the other downed brothers, Smiley, Wellsy and Browny and the brothers riding with them, Wacky and Pom, joined by Knuckle, will return to be by our sides to honour Pop in a manner befitting his most giving, dedicated and free spirited nature."
The club sent its "truly heartfelt condolences" during this dark time to Mr Carlton's family, friends and workmates, "all of whom held Pop in the highest regard".
Police said another male rider, aged 56, suffered serious injuries and was taken to Lismore Base Hospital.
From there, he was flown to Gold Coast University Hospital in a serious but stable condition.
Two other riders aged 52 and 53, both men, were seriously injured and taken to hospital for treatment.
The driver of the red Kia Rio, a 52-year-old man, was trapped in the vehicle for a short time.
He was released and also taken to hospital for treatment and mandatory testing.
The car had been travelling north while the motorcyclists had been southbound, police said.
Mr Carlton posted a group shot of the riders on his own Facebook page on Saturday morning.
"Day one Mackay to Adelaide. Black and Grey all the way," he wrote.
The motorcycle rider's last update was a video of the men at a petrol station on Saturday afternoon with rain falling heavily around them.
"Out first Ken Smiley drought relief ride has been a 100 per cent success today," he wrote.
"NSW and Victorian farmers we are coming to you next."
Tributes have poured in on social media for "Pop" including from other motorcycle clubs.
"Until we meet again Wes Carlton. Fly high and ride free my little friend," Di Mattingley said.
Gary Smith said: "RIP Pop, you'll forever be remembered by all those whose paths you crossed in the community. You always put a smile on our faces. A true gentleman, that's how I'll always remember you."
Peter Newley added: "RIP Pop only met you once but you left me with great memories."
Josh Van Loenen, who shared the devastating news to the Sons of the Southern Cross page, said it was like "Neil Young sang in 'My my, hey, hey' - it's better to burnout than fade away".
Paul O'Brien, who owns Kyogle Motorcycles, said word had travelled quickly around town that the men were from Brisbane and had been heading south.
He said it was "close to home" and every customer on Monday had mentioned the tragedy.
"We feel very much for the motorcycle community in general at the moment," Mr O'Brien told news.com.au today.
"It is a freedom that we have to ride a bike, it's different to a car.
"We don't need to die while we're doing it."
Crash investigators have examined the scene and inquiries continue.
A report will be prepared for the coroner.
The president of the Sons of the Southern Cross motorcycle club, Steve "Towball" Fitzsimons, died in a crash on the Bruce Highway on the Sunshine Coast in April 2016.