23 Oct 2017

Unclear if speed, alcohol factors in fatal pursuit

12:17 pm on 23 October 2017

Neighbours heard a 'boom' and saw injured victims lying in the middle of the road after a car fleeing police crashed into a tree, killing two people.

The car crashed into this tree on St Lukes Road after trying to overtake another vehicle

The car crashed into this tree on St Lukes Road after trying to overtake another vehicle Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton

Police said the car had been travelling at up to 130kmh before it crashed into a tree on St Lukes Road in Morningside, killing both rear-seat passengers - a 25-year-old woman and a 29-year-old man.

Three more men in the car, including the 22-year-old driver, are in hospital in a serious condition.

The pursuit - which lasted less than five minutes - began when police spotted the car speeding on the North-Western motorway at 1.08am.

Police caught up to the car but it did not pull over, instead fleeing and leaving the motorway at the St Lukes off-ramp at 1.12am.

It immediately crashed after trying to overtake another vehicle.

Detective Inspector Scott Beard said it was not yet clear what speed the car was travelling at or if alcohol was a factor.

That would be part of the investigation, which was in its early stages, he said.

"The scene has been examined [and] the vehicle that crashed will be examined.

"The police are obviously dealing with two families... They've lost some loved ones so we've got some support there. And the police are also supporting their own staff who had to attend the crash scene."

The police had not yet spoken to the three survivors, all in their 20s, who remained at Auckland Hospital.

'It was almost like thunder'

RNZ reporter Matt Chatterton, who lives next to the scene of the crash, said the screeching of tyres woke him up.

"I just heard this boom and all of a sudden the sirens," he said.

"It was a really weird sound, it was almost like thunder."

Another neighbour, Martin, said he heard a "thump" as the car hit the tree.

"The car looks like it's gone pretty much straight nose-in into the tree, it's twisted around and its rear end was hanging out onto the road."

Emergency services were already arriving as he went to see what had happened.

"They'd just started doing chest compressions on a guy in the middle of the road... They didn't look like they were getting a response out of him."

Another injured person was lying on the grass five or six metres away from the car, Martin said.

Broken grass litters the base of the tree

Broken grass litters the base of the tree Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton

It appeared that some of the people had been thrown from the car.

St Lukes Road was a 50kmh zone but "they were doing significantly more than that", he said.

Police referred the crash to the Independent Police Conduct Authority and were also conducting their own investigation - standard procedure after a pursuit.

They wanted to speak to the driver of the car that was overtaken immediately before the crash, as well as anyone else who may have seen the pursuit.

The crash is the latest fatal police pursuit this month.

Morrocco Tai, 15, died when the stolen car he was driving crashed into a tree in Ōtara after he fled from police.

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