Fatal chase was lawful, authority finds

Last updated 14:19 27/03/2014

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Police acted lawfully in the fatal car chase of a drink-driver.

Ayla Nelson-Boyd, 21, died when her car struck a tree after a lawful two-minute police chase through Whanganui last year, the Independent Police Conduct Authority said in its report released today.

About 4.30pm on November 16 last year she was stopped for drink-driving and her grandfather had to drive her home. However, that evening she found a spare set of keys.

She took the car and drove six friends to a party in Bulls, before returning to Whanganui about 11pm.

Two police officers noticed the overloaded car coming towards them 45 minutes later and activated their lights and sirens to signal Nelson-Boyd to stop.

However, she took off.

Two minutes and 3.7 kilometres later the car struck a tree, killing Nelson-Boyd and injuring the six other occupants, some of them seriously.

Nelson-Boyd's blood alcohol level at the time of the crash was 102 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood.

The legal blood alcohol for a New Zealand driver of 20 years or older is 80mg per 100ml of blood.

The officers involved completed a risk assessment before commencing the chase and were constantly evaluating it for safety, the report said.

IPCA chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said the officers complied with the law and police policy, but the chase ended in tragedy.

"This was a pursuit which lasted just over two minutes in a residential, well-lit area of Whanganui," Carruthers said.

"Police complied with the law and police policy in commencing the pursuit and regularly assessed the level of risk throughout.

"While in this instance the authority has not found any breaches of police policy, the authority is continuing its discussions with police about a review of policies connected with the pursuit of fleeing drivers."

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