Horror for mother in rear-view mirror

The mother of a young women killed after a high-speed police pursuit was present at the accident, it has been revealed.

Erin Burgess, aged 18 from Auckland, died on the way home from visiting her sick grandfather in Whangarei.

A motorcyclist who had earlier been chased by police slammed into her car on State Highway 1 just south of Whangarei.

Her grandfather died 11 hours later.

The motorcyclist, Kuran William Brunton, 29, died instantly.

The police pursuit, which started about 40km south of Whangarei, reportedly reached speeds of nearly 200km/h.

Erin's boyfriend, Carmilo Manuyag, was in the car but survived uninjured.

Kathy Burgess said she was in a car ahead of her daughter when she saw police officers. She thought they had pulled the motorcyclist over.

Mrs Burgess told Holmes last night that knew something was wrong.

"I knew something had happened, but I didn't know anything about the accident.

"I could see in the rear-view mirror that something was happening so I rang her cellphone and didn't get an answer ...

"Carmilo answered his phone and said, 'Kathy, we've had a bad accident'."

She parked the car and, with her mother-in-law and sister-in-law, went to comfort Carmilo.

Mr Manuyag said the pair were talking and joking before the accident. "It was really quick."

The group then went back to the hospital and Brian Burgess said that after seeing Erin's body they returned to the hospice to tell her grandfather the bad news.

"Kathy and I took one of his hands each and we said, 'Papa, Erin's gone, she's just been killed in a car crash.

"She's there waiting for you, you can go now'."

Mr Burgess said that within 30 minutes he slipped into a coma.

The Burgess family did not blame the police for the death of Erin, and said the motorcyclist should have stopped.

"If he stopped he would still be alive today and so would our little girl," Mr Burgess said.

Police have said they called off the chase before the collision.

Several investigations have been started, including one by the Police Complaints Authority.

Police faced criticisism, including that of the Automobile Association, for not ending the chase sooner.

Mrs Burgess described her daughter was an inquisitive person.

"She never stopped saying 'why?' She wasn't an angel," Mrs Burgess said. "She wasn't perfect."

- NZPA

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