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Mercy dash was to no avail

He could have survived his injury of a broken neck, but that was not to be for Ralph Milgate Pepper. The ambulance he was in, suffered a collision on the way to hospital in Brisbane.

Ralph Pepper was from the community of Casino, the son of George Daniel Pepper and Ethel Rose (nee Milgate) and was studying to be a teacher at the Wagga Teachers College. He obviously had a competitive nature, entering the mile walk in the annual athletics carnival for the college in 1948, coming third against record-breaking a northern districts champion.

So it isn't a huge stretch for him to be active on his holidays and go swimming at nearby Evans Head, when home to Casino from college in the summer holidays. Sadly, in the last days of 1948, while swimming at the mouth of the Evans River, he made the mistake of diving into shallow waters where he suffered his disastrous accident.

At first he had been taken to Casino Memorial Hospital where they placed him in an iron lung for several hours. When he regained consciousness it was decided to send him to Brisbane for specialist treatment. During the journey, however, the ambulance was involved in a collision with a motorcycle at Southport.

Ralph Pepper's grave at Casino cemetery. Courtesy Findagrave

While the ambulance continued its journey, Ralph stopped breathing and despite best efforts using CPR, he died before they reached the hospital.

He was buried at Casino cemetery, after a service at St Mark's Anglican church in the town.


  • 'Funeral of Mr Ralph Pepper', Northern Star, Saturday 1 January, 1949, Page 4

  • 'Died in Ambulance', Daily Examiner, Wednesday 29 December, 1948, Page 2

  • 'Dash by ambulance fails', National Advocate, Thursday 30 December 1948, Page 1

  • 'George Daniel Pepper', Wikitree, accessed 20th February, 2024,

  • 'Seven records go at teacher's college sports', Daily Advertiser, Wednesday 30 June, 1948, Page 2

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