Police 'not to blame' in pursuit death

JOELLE DALLY AND SAM SACHDEVA
Last updated 05:00 23/02/2013
Linwood crash
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

FATAL ACCIDENT: A 15-year-old boy has died after a crash in Linwood this morning.

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Police are not responsible for the death of a 15-year-old who died after a pursuit across Christchurch, a top officer says.

Two police units were involved in the chase, which lasted about four minutes before it was abandoned on Dyers Rd, in Bromley, about 12.35am yesterday.

The fleeing vehicle, a Toyota Hilux SUV, then crashed about a kilometre further up the road. The teenager, a passenger, was flung out and died at the scene.

City area commander Superintendent Andy McGregor said "based on the evidence" he was "more than satisfied" his staff followed correct pursuit policy.

The driver was the only person to blame for the boy's "tragic" death.

"If they'd stopped, no-one would have been killed."

McGregor said the 25-year-old driver, who had three passengers, lost control in roadworks just north of the sewerage ponds.

The vehicle, which had earlier been reported stolen, clipped a barrier and began to roll. It hit a streetlamp and a fence post before coming to a stop in a field.

The driver ran off after the crash and headed east.

McGregor said police arrested a 25-year-old at a Christchurch house about 1pm yesterday. The man was likely to appear in the Christchurch District Court this morning to face driving charges.

McGregor said the stolen vehicle first came to police attention in New Brighton.

A police dog handler went to pull the vehicle over, but it was driven off at speed.

The officer then pursued the vehicle through New Brighton and Linwood with his cars' lights and sirens going.

Another unit was called in as back-up.

He said the SUV was estimated to have reached up to 90kmh on Pages and Buckleys roads, a 50kmh zone.

The officers were ordered to abandon the pursuit while on Linwood Ave.

They acknowledged the order after following the vehicle left onto Dyers Rd and turned off their sirens and lights near the Maces Rd intersection

The offending vehicle continued past the sewerage ponds.

McGregor said police then went into "search phase", where they continued driving at a normal speed.

Police were the first to come across the crash.

Two passengers, aged 21 and 23, were spoken to at the scene.

McGregor was unsure if alcohol was a factor.

He said police did not want to be involved in pursuits because of the risks involved.

"People do not think rationally in stolen vehicles. They take extreme risks and unfortunately the consequences are sometimes very tragic."

The IPCA had been advised of the fatal incident and would conduct an independent investigation, he said.

Investigations were continuing into the theft of the vehicle, which was reported stolen from the Waimakariri riverbed in Kaiapoi about 7.30pm on Thursday.

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- The Press

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