Roadworkers were so enraged at a speeding drink-driver flying past them, one took action and whipped the keys out of the ignition when he stalled.
With his keys gone the 19-year-old driver, Zion Allan Whyte, fled on foot along New Plymouth's Omata Rd.
When police tracked him down, Whyte was arrested and charged with under-20 drink-driving, blowing a level of 380mcg, dangerous driving and wheel spinning.
In New Plymouth District Court this week, Whyte received two months' jail and was disqualified from driving for six months following the events of Saturday, May 19.
Yesterday, Brian Priest, the Civilscape worker who took the keys out of the ignition, said it was the closest he'd ever come to being hit while on the job.
Whyte had earlier sped through the roadworks on the corner of Tukapa St and Omata Rd in Westown.
The roadworkers watched as he did wheelies around the corner, headed up through Francis Douglas Memorial College and performed yet more wheelies coming back down the private road.
"Then he came around the corner [into Omata Rd] and he just let it rip.
"He came skidding around the corner going sideways. Loose gravel was flying everywhere. Someone could have got seriously hurt.
"That's the worst I've ever seen. He was just hammering it.
"Then he lost traction and it stalled. I thought there's my chance to jump in and I grabbed the keys."
Whyte smelt strongly of alcohol, he said.
"He had been trying to restart it but I said: `You're not going anywhere'," Mr Priest said.
On the job yesterday, Civilscape site supervisor Geoff Tangira said he recalled putting up his hand to stop Whyte as he came back around the corner but was forced to jump out of the way.
Mr Tangira was left powerless as Whyte then lost control, nearly hitting Mr Priest five metres away.
"That really got the blood going. I wanted to break every bone in his body."
It was fortunate the stall allowed Mr Priest time to seize the keys, Mr Tangira said.
Motorists' behaviour through roadworks was mostly excellent, Mr Tangira said.
"On the whole we have no problems with the public. We're here to make it safe. It's very disappointing the odd person comes through under the influence of alcohol."
The roadworks, to construct a roundabout at the T-section, were expected to be completed by mid-July.
Senior Sergeant Allan Whaley said yesterday police were pleased with Mr Priest's actions in taking the keys from a drunk driver.
"We commend his quick thinking," Mr Whaley said.
It was also pleasing to see the tough sentence handed down including the car's confiscation, Mr Whaley said.
In court on Thursday, Whyte appeared in the dock with his arm in a cast and pleaded guilty to all the driving offences as well as breaching an earlier sentence of community work.
The court heard Whyte now had 19 similar convictions, demonstrating his disregard for others in the community and despite counselling, there were concerns his offending was escalating.
The sentence came on the same day the first car was crushed under the Government's boy-racer legislation.
Whyte had his BMW officially confiscated. It will be sold, used to pay any fines and costs owing, and if there's any cash left, it goes to Whyte.
In sending Whyte to jail, Judge Max Courtney said the roadworkers came close to being hit by him.
Whyte had shown little motivation in completing community-based sentences.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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