Crash kills real estate agent, two members of one family, boy survives
The rain had stopped when Adam O'Regan and three passengers started to explore the picturesque property in rural New South Wales, Australia.
The popular real estate agent had made the 20-minute drive east to Gundy, to show a remote property to some prospective buyers.
In the car were three members of one family: a 5-year-old boy and his 42-year-old father, from Sydney, and the 75-year-old grandfather, from Brisbane.
O'Regan, a father-of-three who had been in the business for more than a decade, drove his silver Toyota Prado up a muddy, winding track on the property next to a sheer 200-metre drop.
He tried to turn the four-wheel drive around, police believe, when it lost traction and slid over the side.
O'Regan, Paul Christie, 42, his father Bill Christie, 75 were all killed in the accident.
Hugh Christie, five, survived with just a broken arm.
He stayed by his father and grandfather's side for hours until help arrived, the Daily Mail reported.
Acting Superintendent Guy Guiana said the four-wheel drive rolled "any number of times" before it came to rest 400 metres from the track, in "very steep grazing country" next to several trees.
"From our investigations at the scene, we think they were attempting to manoeuvre the vehicle and turn it around when it's lost traction and slid over the edge," he said.
All adults were ejected from the car, while it is believed the five-year-old boy remained inside. He was left with a broken arm and a suspected broken nose and was later airlifted from the scene.
Guiana said it appeared the 42-year-old man was killed "pretty much instantly". His father was found next to him.
"We do believe that his father was alive for some time, and may have made his way to his son before he died," he said.
By all accounts, it was a journey the real estate agent had made many times before.
Guiana, who knew O'Regan, was overcome with emotion as when he spoke about the accident, bowing his head for several seconds and struggling for words.
"Adam has been an agent in the area for many, many years. Obviously he would've done this hundreds of times, driven on properties," he said.
"By all accounts he was a very experienced and careful four-wheel drive operator. I guess it goes to show even with experience and care accidents can happen.
"It's a very tight-knit community and he'll be missed."
The accident scene was discovered on Monday afternoon, when O'Regan didn't return from the inspection.
Others at his real estate agency began to search for him, enlisting the help of neighbours, who found the car at the bottom of the steep embankment.
Police and forensic services remained at the scene on Tuesday, while the 5-year-old boy recovered in Newcastle's John Hunter Children's Hospital.
Family members travelled from Sydney to Newcastle to be by his side.
In a statement, they said he was "understandably shaken" and his healing was the family's number one priority.
"As we support our son through his recovery we are also grieving the loss of two loved ones," the family said.
The family of O'Regan also released a statement on Tuesday, saying he was "one of a kind".
"Adam was an exceptional, one of a kind father, husband, son, brother and friend," they said. "We appreciate your respect of our grief and privacy at this time."
- Sydney Morning Herald