Friends, family call for driver’s arrest after musician killed walking on a Burlington sidewalk

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BURLINGTON, N.C. -- Friends and family members of 58-year-old Reginald Stewart Jeffreys are calling for the driver accused of killing him to turn himself in.

Nathaniel Newton

Jeffreys was walking on Rauhut Street in Burlington when he was struck by a car. Police say Nathaniel Jeremiah Newton was driving the wrong way when his car left the road and hit Jeffreys.

Newton was taken to the hospital for treatment but left before investigators could speak with him.

Jeffreys’ cousin John Wright said he saw the aftermath of the crash but didn’t realize his relative was the victim.

“It’s just a sad thing,” Wright said. “You could always catch him with a piano, a flute or something in his hand. It’s just real sad we lost a real musician in our neighborhood.”

Reginald Stewart Jeffreys (Submitted photo)

Jeffreys, a talented pianist, performed at local churches and the Graham Soda Shop. A video taken by owner Jennifer Talley shows Jeffreys singing and playing at a piano set up at the corner of Elm and Main Streets in downtown Graham.

“He was gone too soon, but I know he’s playing in a concert somewhere. I’m sure he is,” Talley said.

Talley said they set the piano, originally part of an art installation, back out Tuesday to honor Jeffreys.

“He wouldn’t want people crying. He would want people doing what we plan to do, which is celebrate his life and celebrate the fact that we got to know him.”

Burlington police obtained warrants for Newton's arrest on charges of involuntary manslaughter, driving while license revoked, careless and reckless driving, simple possession of marijuana and other motor vehicle violations.

Court documents show Newton has a criminal history, including pending charges of assault, driving with a revoked license and possession of drug paraphernalia.

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