Tessa Rutley.
Tessa Rutley. Alina Rylko

Mum is 'still looking after us'

THEY expect mum to walk through the door any minute.

But Simone Rutley, tireless cancer ward social worker and much-loved member of the Rodds Rd community at Nimbin, is not coming home.

Eldest daughter Tessa Rutley, 18, said the family is still getting used to reality of their mother's sudden death, four weeks ago.

The 49-year-old died Thursday, November 10, after a collision about 5.15pm travelling home from a shift at Lismore Base Hospital on a 50km/hr road.


Simone Rutley
Simone Rutley Alina Rylko

A Toyota Landcruiser veered into Mrs Rutley's lane, the impact leaving Mrs Rutley clinging to life for two hours, while police cut her out of the vehicle.

Mrs Rutley was airlifted from the Nimbin Rd to the Gold Coast University Hospital, where she later died.

The Far North Coast Crash Investigation Unit is set to decide why a 42-year-old male driver collided with Mrs Rutley's Toyota van near High St.

But Mrs Rutley's family said it makes little difference what led to the fatal impact.

They just want "the world to know how amazing mum was" and for the driver who walked away from the crash, to have a social worker, just like their mother, for help.

Ms Rutley, a Diploma of Visual Arts student, said she believed tragic accidents like this happen all the time.

LEFT: Simone Rutley (inset) and her eldest daughter Tessa Rutley.
LEFT: Simone Rutley (inset) and her eldest daughter Tessa Rutley. Alina Rylko

"I don't think it would make much difference (if we knew the cause)," Ms Rutley said.

"I don't want to know who the man was.

"But I did go to the police station because I wanted to make sure that the person who did it had a social worker and was being looked after.

"It could have been anyone. It might have been the person behind mum who was killed."

Ms Rutley paid tribute to her mother, who was born in 1967; graduated with a bachelor of social work in 1989 and in March 2002 a masters.

Mrs Rutley travelled extensively around Australia and the world, when she met husband Jon Bell, backpacking at Kalgoorlie, WA, in her 20s.

The young couple lived in the UK for two years; Newcastle for ten; travelling for two and half years and then settled at Nimbin around the birth of their fourth child.

The couple bought a share on a rural block off Lillian Rock Rd 11 years ago, it was the first legal hub of its type, a haven for potters, writers, musicians, artists and alternative hippies.

Mrs Rutley home-schooled the children for 13 years on the compound until they were high school age in 2009.

It was a decision praised as "the best mum and dad ever made", Ms Tessa Rutley said.

"She took us to music lessons, we did soccer and we did gymnastics, drama, dance and art classes.

"She dedicated so much to us, it's hard to explain how amazing she really was."

Mr Bell became home-dad as Mrs Rutley took up work at Lismore Base Hospital, helping families deal with cancer.

One patient praised Mrs Rutley at her wake on November 19, attended by over 800, including Nimbin residents credited for building communities like Robbs Rd, where Mrs Rutley was treasurer.

Mrs Rutley was also previoulsy secretary of the Nimbin Headers football Club and a member on Tuntable Falls and Rainbow Ridge School committees.

As per her wishes, Mrs Rutley wore yellow as she was laid to rest in a Hemp coffin to Always Look at the Bright Side of Life by Monty Python.

"It's was so magical, even with all the grief," said daughter Laura Rutley, 16.

"Because she helped so many people, it was like she built this security blanket around us.

"She created this community and was so kind to so many it was like when this happened, we had so much support.

"It was like even after she was gone she was still looking after us."

In the wake of the tragedy, the family thanked the Nimbin community for their support and urged all Northern Rivers residents to drive safely.

"The first time since the crash I was driving slowly, as you would expect. And there was a woman who was riding right up my bum," (Tessa) Rutley said.

"I thought 'if you're going to be right there, I'm going to go slower so I can stop just in case something happens'.

"I pulled over to let her pass because I could see she was not in a good mood and as she drove past, the passenger just stuck the rude finger up at me, the whole way across.

"Me and Laura were in the car, and we felt like pulling them over and telling them: 'you have no idea!'

"People should drive safely; you just have to think responsibly.

"And it's also about talking. when I'm at parties now I always say:

"Drive safely."


Tessa Rutley.
Tessa Rutley. Alina Rylko

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