Four siblings have been left without their parents after a horrific car crash on a notorious stretch of road dubbed "death mile".
Andrew Sheehan and his wife Kreshar were travelling with their children along the State Highway in Otago, in New Zealand's southeast, when their vehicle collided with another just after lunchtime on Tuesday.
The parents were killed on impact and all three kids in the car were seriously injured. It's understood they remain in a critical condition clinging to life at Dunedin Hospital, as of Wednesday. The couple's fourth child was not on the trip.
John Banbury, the driver of the other vehicle, was rushed to hospital in a critical condition, though he later died as a result of his injuries.
Couple's heartbreaking final post
The family lived in Te Kuiti, in New Zealand's North Island, and were understood to have been on holiday for Ms Sheehan's birthday, which she celebrated on Sunday. Just hours before the crash, the couple shared a happy snap on Facebook, hugging and smiling atop a ski slope they'd just visited.
Many tributes have flowed online for the both the Sheehans and Mr Banbury, including a post from one of the couple's heartbroken sons Payton, who wrote: "I love you mum and dad".
A family member asked for prayers during the difficult time.
"Truly heartbroken, not only for my little brother but especially the whole Fruean family and those four children left behind still fighting for their lives in hospital. Please pray for them and if you can in any way assist with a small donation," Marcus Joseph wrote.
A spokesperson for the family asked for privacy as loved ones and the Te Kuiti community come to terms with the unimaginable tragedy.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share the sudden passing of our beautiful Kreshar Dannielle Sheehan and our beloved Andrew Francis Sheehan," the spokesperson said.
“We thank those who have reached out already and those who have kept our family in your prayers. It has been an overwhelming response and no words can articulate how grateful we are for the outpour of love and support.
“We ask for your patience as we navigate the next few days as a family before we make an announcement of upcoming services.”
Crash dubbed an 'absolute tragedy'
Helicopters Otago pilot and chief executive Graeme Gale described the deaths as “an absolute tragedy”.
“I don’t know what caused it or how it happened, but there were two cars involved... and with extremely sick patients," Mr Gale told the New Zealand Herald.
As investigations continue, police have asked anyone who may have witnessed the tragedy, or who may have dashcam footage, to come forward.
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