Woman killed in 'worst nightmare' police car crash
ROB KIDD AND MICHAEL DALY
LATEST: A horrified minister was yesterday met by the wreckage of his sister's smashed vehicle on approaching the church where he works.
A police car was attending a break-in at 8.30am - where offenders were still on the premises - when it crashed into a Mitsubishi Pajero containing a male driver and a woman in her 40s on Ormiston Rd, East Tamaki.
Both the man and woman were seriously injured and the woman died in an ambulance on the way to Middlemore Hospital.
Reverend Vaikoloa Kilikiti was on his way in to the Otara Tongan Methodist Church when he recognised his sister's damaged vehicle just metres away.
Kilikiti said he was "heartbroken" when he learned his sister, Liku Onesi, a mother of four, had died.
She had been travelling with her husband, John, who is now in a stable condition.
An attendant at the Z service station on Ormiston Rd said she understood the woman had just dropped her daughter off and was reversing on to the road when the crash happened.
The police car was travelling, with lights and siren activated, near the intersection of Preston Rd and East Tamaki Rd.
"This incident is every police officer's worst nightmare. I am saddened by the events of today," said superintendent John Tims, Counties Manukau district commander.
Police went to work around the country every day to keep their communities safe, he said.
Today's incident was the second fatal crash of its type involving a police vehicle and non-police vehicle since 1994.
The sergeant involved, who was the sole occupant of the police car, was distressed and shocked. He was taken to hospital after the crash but was discharged shortly after and would take time off to recover.
"Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased and the injured man in Middlemore Hospital," Tims said.
Police would do all they could to support the injured man, his family and extended family, and would support the officer involved as well.
Tims said police were committed to finding answers and confirmed the investigation into the crash would be led by an experienced and independent person from outside Counties Manukau.
He was unable to give details of the crash or the speed at which the officer was driving as it was early in the investigation and he did not want to speculate.
The officer had been on his way to a priority-one incident at Ashton Ave five kilometres away, where offenders had broken into a premises and were still on the scene. An alleged offender had been taken into custody.
Police are trained to drive to a high level and are legally responsible for their actions while driving.
They must also prioritise public and Police safety.
The owner of a business near the crash scene said a customer had driven down the road shortly after the crash and had seen what looked like a body underneath the police vehicle.
Both the police car and the Mitsubishi Pajero had crashed into the fence of a property, and a lamp post had been knocked over.
The serious crash unit went to the scene and the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the coroner are carrying out their own investigations.
Counties Manukau police urged anyone who witnessed the crash to call 09 261 1300.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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