Police were scouring the Cobden estuary to try and find a man who went missing after he plunged into the cold lagoon trying to evade officers.
The man had been pulled over as part of a routine stop at about 12.30am this morning.
He then attempted to evade the police by speeding away. In doing so he pulled into the Cobden estuary and crashed into the rocks at the entrance.
West Coast area commander inspector John Canning expected the man to have a gash on his forehead as there was a mark from where he had hit the windscreen.
The man then proceeded on foot, running towards Jellyman Park. Police believed that the man then entered the lagoon as attending officers later heard calls for help coming from the water.
A search and rescue operation was initiated to try and locate the driver, but was unsuccessful. At 5.15am the search was suspended and did not resume until first light with Police out again this morning attempting to find the man, using the Surf Rescue boat to check the water.
Mr Canning said they did not currently know the identity of the driver or where he was from, but said that the vehicle was last registered in Christchurch.
Mr Canning did not know why the man tried to evade them and was unaware if he had been hiding something.
"It's a gross over-reaction by whoever the person was."
If the man is not found it will be the second time in a little over two years that a fugitive has disappeared on the West Coast after taking to water in a bid evade Greymouth police.
Andrew David Lorimer, 21, was never found after he entered a swollen Grey River after rolling his car outside the Bucks Head Tavern, at Taylorville, about 3.30am on September 20, 2009.
The police communications centre was contacted about 3.40am by Mr Lorimer's girlfriend, in Christchurch, who had just received a text from him, indicating that he had been in a crash, his shoulder hurt, he was confused and did not know where he was. He said he was in the river and the phone connection was likely to end if it got wet.
Mr Lorimer was never heard from again despite an intensive three-day search, also involving a helicopter and the police dive squad.
Coroner Richard McElrea headed an inquest into Mr Lorimer's death and found that the Grey River was "deep flowing", with low visibility, numerous sink holes and constant gravel flow. The dive squad said it was possible the body had been trapped in a hole, covered in shingle and sand and would remain there.
'I am satisfied he was intoxicated. He was fleeing police, concerned about the state he was in. He was injured, likely to be disoriented by the crash and got into a situation that he was not able to retrieve himself from," Mr McElrea said in his finding that Mr Lorimer had drowned.