Lynley Bilby is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Police save driver's life as crashed car fills with smoke

Police tried to pull over a car that had been reported stolen. Photo / File
Police tried to pull over a car that had been reported stolen. Photo / File

Three police officers are being credited with saving the life of a fleeing teen driver trapped in a crashed and smoke-logged car.

Inspector Peter Raines is praising the efforts of officers who went to the aid of a stricken under-age driver trapped in a mangled wreck.

Mr Raines said moments earlier the police had chased the car along Henderson's Central Park Drive in West Auckland after the 15-year-old boy failed to stop at 12.39pm.

He initially indicated he would stop but then sped off over the bridge spanning Henderson Creek.

Police gave chase but less than 60 seconds later, the driver lost control on a corner, veering over the footpath on the left side of the road before the car travelled up a bank and skidded along the grass and crashed side-on into a tree.

The impact jammed the driver's foot on the accelerator so the car continued to rev, and the vehicle started to catch fire.

As smoke filled the car, three police officers risked their lives using fire extinguishers to put out the fire, then pulling the injured driver to safety.

"Good on them for saving his life. The poor guy was badly injured. He was trapped for some time and the cops got to him and pulled him out," said Mr Raines.

"The continual revving and smoking meant it was getting hotter and hotter in there so they needed to get him out to save his life."

Ambulance staff treated the police officers for smoke inhalation.
The driver was taken to hospital in a critical condition. He was now in a serious but stable condition.

Acting Area Commander Inspector Claire Humble said this was another example of the tragic consequences when a driver failed to stop.

"This is a devastating event for both the victim and his family, as well as my staff."

Police and the Independent Police Conduct Authority will investigate, as is standard for such incidents.

"However based on all the information available to me at this time, I am satisfied that this incident was managed appropriately."

She said police put themselves at considerable risk to get the driver out of the car while it was on fire.

"Once again we must give the message that if you are told to stop, pull over and get the matter sorted out.

The consequences of not doing so can lead to a devastating outcome, Inspector Humble.

- NZ Herald

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