An act of "absolute stupidity and dangerous driving" by a fleeing motorist put innocent lives at risk, Northland's top traffic officer says.
A 36-year-old man from Raumanga will appear in the Whangarei District Court today after a pursuit which ended when the fleeing driver failed to take a corner at major roadworks and hit another motorist. Police yet again appealed to drivers who were signalled to stop by police, to do exactly that - stop.
Northland road policing manager Inspector Wayne Ewers said fleeing drivers had little regard for anyone but themselves.
"Just stop. It's not worth killing or seriously injuring someone. They are putting everyone's lives at risk and that's the issue," Mr Ewers said. "It was absolute stupidity and dangerous driving and jeopardised innocent motorists and road workers."
The drama - the third pursuit in Whangarei in five days - began when the blue Subaru was spotted on Mill Rd in Kensington and identified as a vehicle of interest to police about 10am yesterday.
Mr Ewers said, as the officer completed a u-turn, the vehicle took off. The officer lost sight but members of the public reported seeing a suspicious vehicle and police spotted the Subaru again.
"The driver was requested to stop with red and blue lights but took off."
Mr Ewers said a pursuit was then initiated and went round the streets of Kensington and Otangarei before the fleeing driver went through the carpark of the old Countdown supermarket and on to Kensington Ave.
"Before police could decide whether to continue the pursuit, the car continued and failed to negotiate the intersection, striking a northbound vehicle."
The 75-year-old male driver of the northbound car was trapped and had to be cut free by Whangarei firefighters. The Englishman, who spends six months a year in Northland, was taken to hospital by St John ambulance in a stable condition. The fleeing vehicle then went across the intersection and stopped near the front door of a house. After an attempt to run off, officers arrested a man and he was taken to Whangarei police station for further questioning.
After an overnight stay in custody, the man will appear in court on charges of driving while disqualified, reckless driving, failing to stop and resisting arrest. It is likely he will face more charges. The Subaru was impounded. There are major roadworks at the intersection with a number of workers on site, but fortunately no one was injured.
Kensington resident Shane Muir was crossing Kensington Ave towards the chemist where his truck was parked, when he heard police sirens.
"I knew they were chasing someone, I could hear all the sirens and then there were people pointing," Mr Muir said.
"Just as I was crossing the road, I heard a loud bang and looked over my shoulder. It was a guy in a blue Subaru going over a speed bump. I quickly got out of the way and he flew behind me."
He is recovering from a broken ankle and said the loud bang gave him enough warning to avoid the speeding car.
A resident in Churchill St said the blue vehicle went past "in the blink of an eye" and was "absolutely flying".
Yesterday's pursuit comes only days after a fleeing teenage driver on a learner licence rammed three police cars during a 15-minute pursuit in Kamo last Saturday. The day before, a stolen car reached speeds of 160km/h in a police pursuit lasting 30km, before it clipped another vehicle and crashed off SH1 near Towai. At the start of the month, Northland police abandoned a pursuit after a driver, who failed to stop, hit top speeds of 200km/h.