‘Traumatic’: Dad’s futile bid to save his angels


Young father Dylan Wadley ­desperately fought to free his children from the family car after it plunged into a dam and took on water in a nightmare accident police are still trying to piece together.

Horrific details of the tragedy have emerged as 13-year-old Leo Larsen and his four-year-old sister Mia were identified as the children who died when a four-wheel-drive, driven by Mr Wadley, 23, careened into Wyaralong Dam near Beaudesert southwest of Brisbane on Sunday.

Mr Wadley and his 33-year-old fiance Mel Martin, both significantly injured, were able to free themselves from the car before it is understood Mr Wadley made repeated desperate attempts to get all four of their children out.

But it is understood some of the car's doors would not open, and Mia and Leo could not be saved.

Police say minutes earlier, the car had veered left and struck a guard rail on Beaudesert-Boonah Rd before it crossed over to the other side of the road where it struck another barrier.

The car slid down a stone embankment, where it flipped on its roof and semi-submerged in the water.

The youngest member of the family of six, five-week-old Hope, was pulled from the car and placed into the safe arms of a passer-by, while one-year-old Ace was unresponsive when removed.

A critical-care paramedic and two doctors - all off duty at the time - immediately performed CPR on the tot before he was airlifted to hospital in critical condition.


Mia, 4, died in the crash but her newborn sister Hope survived. (Facebook image)
Mia, 4, died in the crash but her newborn sister Hope survived. (Facebook image)


Queensland Police Service Inspector Douglas McDonald praised the ­efforts of those who tried desperately to help the family.

"It's really traumatic for the first responders and for the members of the public who did a fantastic job out there," Insp McDonald said.

He said investigators were still working to determine the circumstances surrounding the heartbreaking tragedy.

"We are keeping an open mind on our investigation," Insp McDonald said.

"People travelling long distances, fatigue is a big killer on our roads and that's certainly part of our investigation on this matter …"

He said there was no indication Mr Wadley had alcohol in his system at the time of the crash.

Mr Wadley and Ms Martin became engaged last year, and had only weeks ago celebrated the birth of Hope, who is the couple's second child together.

A beautiful picture of Mia holding newborn Hope, posted on Ms Martin's social media, shows how close the young family were.

Leo, who was a student at Warwick State High School, was a lover of cars.

He would also show cattle from time to time.


Leo Larsen, 13, was a lover of cars and cattle.
Leo Larsen, 13, was a lover of cars and cattle.


Insp McDonald said that despite the very best efforts from all involved in trying to pull the pair from the car - including a distraught Mr Wadley - Leo and Mia were submerged for a significant period of time.

"Unfortunately those two children were trapped in the vehicle longer than the other occupants," he said.

He also said "there was some difficulty getting some of the doors open to the vehicle to extract the kids".

A hobby diver who stopped to help at the scene said he was "surprised" any of the children survived the tragedy.


Leo Larsen, 13, Mia, 4, and Hope. Their parents were recently engaged. (Facebook image)
Leo Larsen, 13, Mia, 4, and Hope. Their parents were recently engaged. (Facebook image)

Child seats were also found in the vehicle, and all occupants were understood to be wearing seatbelts.

Inspector McDonald said the family, from Pratten near Warwick, were travelling home from Pimpama on the Gold Coast.

The children's great-grandmother posted about the tragedy on Facebook. "My grandson, partner and children were in a tragic car accident today … two children didn't survive and a third child (is) in a critical condition.

"Grandson has serious leg injuries and is going to surgery …" she wrote.

Both Mr Wadley and Ms Martin remain in the Princess Alexandra Hospital, while Ace continues his fight for life while on life support at the Queensland Children's Hospital. Hope is in a stable condition, also at the Queensland Children's Hospital.

A report will be prepared for the coroner.

Anyone with dashcam footage is also urged to contact police as the forensic crash unit continue their investigations.

If you witnessed anything, or have dashcam footage from the area, contact Policelink on 131444.

Dylan Wadley and fiancee Mel Martin (Facebook image)
Dylan Wadley and fiancee Mel Martin (Facebook image)




Originally published as 'Traumatic': Dad's futile bid to save his angels