FAMILY and friends of Scone real estate agent Adam O’Regan have paid tribute to him a day after the Gundy car accident that claimed his life as well as those of two passengers.
A five-year-old boy was the only survivor after an accident police believe may have occurred when Mr O’Regan was turning the vehicle as he showed a property to two men.
Those men were the child’s father, 42, and 75-year-old grandfather.
Mr O’Regan’s heartbroken family released a short statement on Tuesday afternoon.
“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.”
Mr O’Regan’s employer went looking for him and the clients when he failed to return from the inspection, seeking assistance from neighbouring properties.
Chief Inspector Guy Guiana, who was brought to tears as he discussed the tragedy, said forensic specialists were examining the scene on Tuesday afternoon before retrieval of the vehicle could begin.
“We believe that they were driving on the track...when it’s lost traction and slid over the edge,” Chief Inspector Guiana said.
“Why the car left the track, we can’t say for certain.”
Police were forced to wait for the track to dry out before some of their vehicles could access the area where the four-wheel drive is believed to have slipped.
“Obviously [Mr O’Regan] would have done this hundreds of times, driven on properties,” Chief Inspector Guiana said.
“From all accounts he was a very experienced and careful four-wheel drive operator. I guess it just goes to show that even with experience and care, accidents can happen.”
SafeWork NSW is also examining the circumstances around the accident.
Chief Inspector Guiana said he was unable to comment on the state authorities found the child in after the crash.
“By all accounts he is talking to his family this morning and seems to be recovering well,” he told media on Tuesday afternoon.
The child’s relatives issued a statement after they “lost a father and a grandfather” in the tragic crash.
“Our son, who thankfully sustained non-life threatening injuries, is understandably shaken and it is our family’s number one priority to be there and care for him as he recovers,” the family said.
“As we support our son through his recovery we are also grieving the loss of two loved ones.
“We request peace and privacy at this incredibly difficult time for our family.”
A neighbour speaking on Tuesday said a massive downpour may have contributed to the greasy conditions.
Bill, who did not wish to release his surname, subdivided and sold the 700-acre property about 15 years ago. He revealed the car was discovered in an area on the property that was notoriously slippery when damp.
He said grass had also grown over the track, making it inherently more dangerous as the rural community of Gundy received about 25mm of rain on Monday morning.
“It is very steep up the back. It only takes a bit of rain to be dangerous,’’ Bill said.
“It is just so unfortunate.’’
The drop off the track is about 200 metres in places and was “very steep”.
Bill said the property had been bought by Sydney-based investors and was on the market.
He said Scone real estate agent Adam O’Regan was very well-known around the farming and rural communities.
“He is a lovely guy. A very well liked, well-known man. He was always happy and cheery,’’ he said.
Police confirmed late on Monday the accident had claimed three lives.
Emergency services were called to the property on Waverley Road about 5pm when the car was found by a neighbouring landowner.
It is believed the car drove off a cliff and rolled down an embankment. All four people on board were ejected from the car, police said.
The men were believed to be inspecting the remote property on Monday morning.
Police said concerns were raised for the men's welfare on Monday afternoon when they failed to return from the trip.
Police and neighbours on quad bikes returned to the property on Tuesday morning, where investigations are still underway.
Glen Ramplin, an air crewman for the Hunter Region Westpac Rescue Helicopter, told Fairfax Media on Monday two helicopters were dispatched to the accident – one from Newcastle and one from Tamworth.
"The first call that the aircraft from Newcastle got was [Tamworth] had been called to a property up there for a car that had gone off a cliff," Mr Ramplin said.
The Tamworth medics arrived at the crash site first, about 6pm, and called off the second crew when they realised the boy was the only survivor.
Ambulance crews had to use quad bikes to get to the scene, he said.
Mr Ramplin said the boy was flown to Scone Hospital, where he was transferred in an ambulance to Newcastle's John Hunter Children's Hospital.
He remained in the hospital in a stable condition on Monday night.
Police began to examine the scene on Monday and resumed their investigation on Tuesday morning.
It is not yet known what caused the crash.
A report will be prepared for the Coroner.
- with Matt Carr