Man in custody after police pursuit
Car chase 'like Grand Theft Auto'TIMARU HERALD STAFF REPORTER
A 21-year-old man described as ''mentally unstable'' is in custody this morning following a police pursuit across parts of South Canterbury and the Mackenzie.
Road spikes deployed at Saltwater Creek, Timaru, brought an abrupt end to the pursuit about 8am, about five hours after it started.
An informant from Dunedin told Timaru police on Saturday the man was ''unwell'' and provided a description of the vehicle he might have been in - an orange Mitsubishi Lancer. The car was seen on Hilton Highway at 3am today.
However, when the man saw a police patrol car he turned his lights off and accelerated away, Senior Sergeant Mark Offen said.
There were no other sightings of him until 6.30am when he visited a resident of west Timaru, who later contacted police to report his whereabouts.
The vehicle was followed to Pleasant Point, where an attempt to deflate the car's tyres with road spikes failed. The driver continued on to Fairlie, where police lost sight of the vehicle.
However, a resident informed the police they had seen the car turn on to State Highway 79, toward Geraldine. The driver then doubled back to Pleasant Point.
Mr Offen said a ''search phase'' was conducted in the Fairlie, Opuha and Pleasant Point area. Police patrols eventually caught up with the car in Halstead Rd, Pleasant Point and followed the car into Timaru.
The man drove south through Timaru, with the situation coming to an abrupt end at Saltwater Creek after road spikes deflated two of the car's tyres.
Mr Offen said the man would face a number of driving charges.
Witness John Sullivan saw the event in its final stages, describing the scene like something out of a video game.
''It was like I was watching Grand Theft Auto.''
Mr Sullivan was returning to his car, parked on SH1 facing south, when he heard the car coming.
''I'd just crossed the road, just in front of him. He was going like the clappers. I pinned myself against the side of my vehicle because I thought he was going to side-swipe me.''
"Well done to the police to apprehend him before he caused any more mayhem on the road.''
Mr Offen said the public's help was appreciated in catching the man.
''We'd just like to thank the people that advised us and kept us up-to-date of his whereabouts, and the radio stations that broadcast latest updates for us.''
- © Fairfax NZ News