28 May 2018

Child and teen killed in Palmerston North police chase

8:47 pm on 28 May 2018

A 12-year-old passenger and a teenage boy have died after a police pursuit in Palmerston North.

Police generic

Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

The crash brings the number of fatal pursuits this month alone to four, with five deaths in total.

Police said the driver of the car failed to stop for officers on Monrad Street about 1.30pm.

Police said they were alerted early this afternoon to a "vehicle of interest" - a Subaru which was possibly being driven by a 15-year-old who was breaching his bail conditions for serious driving charges, several of which had been laid this year.

The drive then travelled onto State Highway 56, crashing into a power pole at the intersection of Pioneer Highway and Shirriffs Road.

A 12-year-old girl who was sitting in the front seat died at the scene.

The driver suffered critical injuries and has since died in hospital, police said.

A 15-year-old girl who was in the back seat sustained serious injuries and remained in hospital in a serious condition.

A Palmerston North business owner was one of the first people on the scene, which he said was deeply traumatic.

He had heard the car going at an excessive speed down the busy road just before it crashed.

"It made me react and turn around and that's when I saw the car come sliding across the road and hit the power pole and, yes, it was going very, very quick."

Police said the chase lasted only 90 seconds.

Central district commander Superintendent Sue Schwalger said it was "an incredibly sad time for the families of the two young people who have died".

"Our thoughts are with them at this difficult time."

Family liaison officers were working with the families and Victim Support had been offered, Ms Schwalger said.

Three investigations would now take place, she said - the serious crash unit, an internal police investigation, and an investigation carried out by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

Police took the decision to pursue drivers very seriously, she said.

"The last thing any police officer wants to have happen when they are on shift is for any incident to end in a fatality.

"These incidents are devastating for all those involved."

The deaths bring the number of people killed while fleeing the police in the past two years to 21 - five of them this month alone.

Just over a week ago a 15-year-old, who was travelling in the boot of a car that was being pursued, died when the vehicle crashed.

A man died in Kawerau on 11 May when he crashed after fleeing from police.

And on 7 May another driver died minutes after a pursuit was called off, after the fleeing car crashed into a power pole.

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