1 Jul 2016

Search fails to find fleeing Northland driver

5:52 pm on 1 July 2016

Searchers in Northland have failed to find any trace of a man who jumped into the Mangakahia River last night after a police car chase in Whangarei.

The man was speeding in a blue Subaru when he was pulled over by police in Western Hills Drive at 6.40pm.

Two patrol cars pursued him for 70km on State Highway 14 and Mangakahia Road, and he drove through two sets of spikes before stopping in a rest area.

Inspector Wayne Ewers said the driver jumped out and ran, and police believe he jumped into the Mangakahia River.

"A police dog unit stopped as well and the handler has deployed their dog.

"As they've done this, they've heard a splash and obviously the driver has jumped in the river, and the last the police officers have seen of the driver was that he was swimming in the heavy swollen river."

Search and rescue teams searched the river for 5km downstream today, and carried out a 3km search of the banks.

Police said they would decide tomorrow whether to resume the search.

A passenger in the car who got out before the chase has contacted police today and they now believe they know who they're looking for.