Bank-crashing car's driver fled checkpoint

Last updated 12:17 02/12/2012

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A car that crashed into a building in central Nelson had fled a police checkpoint and was pursued just minutes before the smash.

A police spokesperson said officers had attempted to stop the car in St Vincent St minutes before it crashed through the main doors of an ANZ Bank branch on Trafalgar St just before 9pm yesterday.

The occupants of a vehicle and pedestrians in the area at the time were lucky to escape injury.

The spokesperson said the Toyota car initially pulled into the kerb at the checkpoint, but as an officer approached it the driver accelerated away.

The vehicle turned into the car park in front of The Warehouse and was pursued by police out on to Hardy St.

Police abandoned the pursuit after less than a minute due to the car's speed.

The vehicle continued up Hardy St into the central city at high speed, colliding with a taxi at the intersection with Trafalgar St.

The driver then lost control, narrowly avoiding a number of pedestrians in the area before crashing through the main doors of the bank.

The four occupants of the vehicle were uninjured as was the driver of the taxi.

Police arrested the 31-year-old driver. He is a disqualified driver and tested positive for alcohol.

He will appear in the Nelson District Court on Monday.

'IT WAS AMAZING'

Wellingtonians Liz and Mike Ritchie were at Ford's Restaurant and Bar when they heard a loud noise as the car smashed through the bank.

They said the car hit bollards on the pavement before crashing through the bank's glass frontage.

"We heard this almighty crash. We saw this car go straight into the front on the ANZ building. It was amazing," Liz Ritchie said.

She said about seven police cars arrived "from all four corners" within a minute.

Mike Ritchie said the car looked like it had gone 15 metres into the building, ''all the way to the back''.

"What was worse was you could hear the roar of the engine as the car tried to reverse out."

One of the men in the car had then attempted to run but someone had tackled him to the ground and restrained him until police arrived, he said.

It was incredibly fortunate nobody had been killed.

"Luckily they didn't strike anything more substantial. If they had they hit a tree they would have died for sure. Or if they had hit a pedestrian ... It's a busy night in town, they could have taken out a family."

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- The Nelson Mail

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