Residents help police collar man

SUE FEA IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 05:00 29/07/2013

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A Uruguayan man who allegedly fled police and then an accident scene before spending the night in the hills near Arthurs Point was apprehended with help from Shotover Jet staff yesterday.

The 35-year-old allegedly left the scene of an accident on Gorge Rd about 2pm on Saturday and a helicopter with powerful spotlights spent about half an hour searching the hills above Gorge Rd about 11pm amid concerns for the man's safety. He was reportedly wearing only a T-shirt and jeans.

Constable Hugh O'Reilly said the man was arrested after Atley Rd residents reported seeing a man in a green bush shirt looking into parked cars and "poking his nose around" about 9am yesterday. Police now want to know whether anyone in the area is missing a green bush shirt.

Acting Sergeant Tracy Haggart said the man was assessed at Lakes District Hospital late yesterday, but was bailed to appear in the Queenstown District Court on five charges today. He faces charges of failing to stop for police and failing to ascertain injury after an accident, reckless driving and unlawfully being found on farmland and in a building.

Haggart said the chase began at Frankton about 2pm on Saturday after witnesses reported erratic driving by the driver of a Mazda sedan. The chase was abandoned before the Mazda then "clipped" another car carrying a young family on Gorge Rd.

Gorge Rd resident Mike Boyd heard the collision before the driver came running up a hill at him "ranting and raving with his arms flying. I yelled at him to stop and get back down to the accident scene, but he was going pronto . . . I tried to wrestle with him and ended up pulling his fawn polar fleece off. Police then high-tailed up the hill after him but he was long gone," Boyd said.

Officers searched for about 90 minutes yesterday morning chasing up various sightings. The man was caught near the Shotover Jet workshop about 11am. Police want to hear from any residents who may have had property stolen.

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- The Southland Times

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