Police in Auckland say a car was travelling at up to 160 kilometres an hour before it crashed, killing three men, after a police pursuit.
Three men, aged 18, 19 and 20 are dead and a fourth is in a critical condition after their car hit a parked four-wheel-drive vehicle on Massey Road in Mangere, Auckland.
Superintendent John Tims of Counties Manukau district said three lives are too high a price to pay for the sake of avoiding the police.
He said the men's car was travelling at up to 160 kilometres an hour on State Highway 20, and 100 km/h on Massey Rd, which is a 50km zone.
Mr Tims said the police pursued the green Honda Accord twice but abandoned both pursuits because the speed was too high.
He said alcohol was also a factor in the crash.
Mr Tims said it was a completely avoidable tragedy.
He said there's a simple message from the crash: if people are asked to stop by officers, they should stop.
Two men died at the scene and a third died in theatre at Middlemore hospital.
The fourth man is in a critical condition.
A St John Ambulance paramedic said the car was badly damaged on every side and it was obvious it was going very fast when it crashed.
Residents on Massey Road say they heard a car speeding down the street just before it hit a parked vehicle, shunting it several metres.
Mr Tims said police are constantly reviewing their policies but he believes the officers involved did everything they could to try to prevent the crash.
The Serious Crash Unit and the Independent Police Conduct Authority are investigating.
Police not to blame says association
Police Association president Greg O'Connor said the police are not to blame for the deaths.
Mr O'Connor said no blame should be placed on the officers, but with the driver who decided to flee from the police, leaving grieving families in his wake.
He said too many young men take the chance to speed away because they know police officers have been told to pull out of pursuits if they get too fast.