Sonya Bateson

Sonya is the education reporter at the Bay of Plenty Times.

Gang brawl: Man hit by car in Rotorua driveway

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A Rotorua man is fighting for his life after being run down by a utility vehicle following a street brawl in a Rotorua suburb.

A brawl involving a group of men armed with baseball bats, fence palings and shovels broke out in Koutu yesterday afternoon before the man, aged in his 30s, was hit by a vehicle.

Rotorua police say the man, who is fighting for his life, suffered serious injuries including compound fractures and arterial bleeding.

Senior Sergeant Brendan Keenan said the incident started between gang members at a dairy on Koutu Rd about 4pm. It then ended at a residential property, also on Koutu Rd.

"The man, who is now the victim, hopped into a car and has gone to an address on Koutu Rd where he and some others have gone into an address for some retaliation with weapons - baseball bats. It resulted in the victim being run over by a vehicle and he is now in hospital with a Status One [critical injuries]."

Mr Keenan said police closed Koutu Rd until photographers and the serious crash unit arrived.

The Daily Post was at the scene as a blue utility vehicle reversed out of a Koutu Rd driveway yesterday afternoon and a group of men, young and old, were battering the truck with planks of wood and bats.

The driver of the truck then drove back into the driveway, striking the man. The man was left lying on the driveway until St John Ambulance staff arrived.

He was admitted to Rotorua Hospital about 5pm in a critical condition.

A neighbour, who didn't want to be named, saw the incident and believed there had been a child's birthday party being held at the property where the utility vehicle came from. The neighbour believed the driver was trying to get away when he hit the man.

The witness said the trouble started when a group of young people threw a rock at a car and smashed the back window of a Mercedes, which then drove away to pick up more people and turned up at the Koutu Rd property.

Witness Alan Solomon was driving down Koutu Rd and said if he had been about three seconds quicker, it could have been his car getting attacked.

He saw about 10 people swinging bits of two-by-four wood or bats, with around six of them directly hitting the blue ute.

Mr Solomon said he heard a man scream as the person driving the utility backed into the driveway and hit his brakes.

Another man who witnessed the attack said a group of about nine people had to dive out of the way as the Mercedes came charging towards them.

The man, who didn't want to be identified, first saw the group of people standing along Koutu Rd when a vehicle with about four people inside pulled up beside them and started yelling.

From there a fight broke out before those from the car ran back towards the vehicle because they were outnumbered, the man said. He said the fighting lasted a couple of minutes.

"They started running back because they were outnumbered then tried to run them over." He said the men on the street then started smashing the car armed with fence posts and shovels.

Police said last night no arrests had yet been made.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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