Friends mourn house-crash victim
Police launched a homicide inquiry after a man died when the car he was travelling in slammed into a house in Greymouth.
Judd Hall, a 26-year-old from the West Coast settlement of Runanga, died at the scene following the impact, which police said was so great it shifted the house off its foundations.
The crash followed a brief police chase on Friday night. Witnesses said the car was travelling around 100 km/h through a 50 km/h area at 11pm.
A police patrol car started to give chase but Hall's car crashed soon after.
The officer involved in the pursuit had been stood down while an investigation was undertaken. The crash had been referred to the Police Conduct Authority.
West Coast police area commander Inspector John Canning Police said police had launched a homicide investigation because someone could be culpable for the sudden death.
"We have suspicions that this crash is a result of both speed and alcohol but that will be either confirmed or negated by the inquiry.
"Rescue workers at the scene would indicate that the car smelt strongly of alcohol.
"Whether that indicates that the passengers and driver had been drinking or whether that's just broken alcohol bottles in the back, obviously we will sort that out."
Hall, who was sitting in the back seat, was killed immediately in the crash, his family said last night.
Another 28-year-old in the car was impaled in the abdomen by wood from the house.
The third person from the car, a 24-year-old West Coast man, is being treated for serious chest injuries.
Shilo Hall, 21, said she was having the "worst time" as she came to grips with the death of her big brother. "He always lived life to the full."
He had always made her look positively on life, she said.
Friends were also mourning Hall on social media, calling him a "one of a kind dude".
Jean Cohen, on her Facebook page, said: "You will be missed by everyone! Everyone please be safe on the roads."
Another West Coast friend, Josh Jones, said his heart went out to his friend's family.
Family will formally identify the body within the next few days.
Next-door neighbour Cody Tunnicliffe, 17, witnessed the crash on the West Coast township's main road, High St.
She said the driver lost control on a sweeping bend.
"I looked out the window and there's the cops chasing the car and as soon as I looked out the window, the car was on the opposite side of the road doing about 100, or maybe faster.
"Next minute, you see him sliding into the house and they kind of bellyflip into the house."
Canning said it was rare for speeding drivers to flee police on the West Coast but it was a concern nationally.
"Look it's not rocket science. Here's a tragic case where we've got a dead man simply because someone thought they knew better and weren't prepared to stop. Now I don't know why they came to that decision but it's turned out to be a very poor decision."
It is the second serious crash on the West Coast this week.
On Thursday a woman suffered serious injuries injured after her car was hit by a train near Reefton.
The collision happend about 1.30pm at the Swamp Creek Rd crossing, 15 km north of Reefton and 10km south of Inangahua.
The woman, in her 50s, was flown by rescue helicopter to Christchurch Hospital.
She had multiple serious injuries.
It was understood she was the only person in the car.