Friends mourn house-crash victim

DEIDRE MUSSEN IN GREYMOUTH
Last updated 08:41 26/01/2014
neighbours
NEIGHBOURS: Dawn Tunnicliffe, left, and her pregnant daughter, Cody, witnessed last night's fatal police chase in Greymouth from the next-door house.

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Friends are mourning Judd Hall - a "one of a kind dude" - who died when the car he was travelling in slammed into a house following a brief police pursuit in Greymouth.

Hall, a 26-year-old man from the West Coast settlement of Runanga, died at the scene of the crash about 11pm yesterday.

A second male passenger and the male driver of the vehicle were taken to Grey Base hospital.  

Friends of the Hall have described a man loved by his many friends.

Jean Cohen asked he "rest easy", on her Facebook page.

"You were a one of a kind dude and will be missed by everyone! Everyone please be safe on the roads," she wrote.

Another West Coast friend, Josh Jones, said his heart went out to his friend's family.

"Such a sad thing to happen. Will be missed. So many friends will miss you mate. So many good times and laughs," he wrote on Facebook.

Family will formally identify the body within the next few days..

A former resident of the property had shifted homes only hours before the out-of-control car slammed into what had been his bedroom.

Next-door neighbour Cody Tunnicliffe, 17, witnessed the crash on the West Coast township's main road after noticing police flashing lights out her bedroom window.

She said the car police were pursuing was travelling at about 100km an hour in the 50kmh zone and lost control on a sweeping bend.

It veered onto the wrong side of the road and over-corrected near a road island before crashing into the neighbour's wooden home.

''....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.''

About 20 seconds later, she saw a police car slam on his brakes outside her home and swiftly back up to where the car had crashed.

Tunnicliffe said a man who had flatted in the next-door house moved out about 7pm.

''Where the car went through is where his bed was so he's lucky he wasn't there.''

The crash's force smashed all the windows down one side of the house and shook the Tunnicliffe's house.
''The house is a write-off.''

Cody's mother, Dawn Tunnicliffe, of Christchurch, also witnessed the crash.

She had been staying with her daughter and partner in Greymouth since last Wednesday because Cody was due to give birth tomorrow.

''What I actually heard first was a swish of the car leaving the road and next minute a big thud bang and then I run outside to have a look.''

She also saw the police car slamming on its brakes outside their house and reversing back to the neighbours' property ''and I looked up into the next-door neighbour's house and saw that there was a car in the house''.

''We were aware there was three people in the car but they weren't really screaming out for help or anything. I couldn't hear them from where I was standing.''

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The sole policeman alerted emergency services, which arrived at the scene and cut two injured men from the wreck, she said.

Greymouth Hospital was across the road from the crash site.

Smoke was pouring from the car, she said.

''We were frightened that there was still someone living in the front bedroom but he had only just moved out.''

The other person who lived at the house was out last night so the Tunnicliffes called the man to tell him what had happened.

Police said in a written statement today that a police patrol had spotted the white Subaru station wagon speeding along High St last night so activated his lights and sirens, pulling out to follow the vehicle, which failed to stop.

However, the Tunnicliffes claimed the police vehicle's siren was not on when the crash occurred.

About 600m from where the south-bound vehicle was first spotted, the road veered left so the officer quickly lost sight of the car, police said.

''When he came around the bend he found the car had crashed into a house on the left hand side of the street.''

One of the car's occupants died at the scene, the second person was trapped inside the vehicle for some time and suffered very serious injuries. The third person suffered only minor injuries.

There was significant damage to the house, however no one was home at the time.

Police had launched a homicide investigation and a serious crash investigator was at the scene.

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.

- The Press

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