Tauranga police were ready to lay road spikes to stop a speeding car on the Kaimai Range yesterday but got more than they bargained for when they found a pregnant woman appearing as though she was about to give birth.
However the woman discharged herself from Tauranga Hospital after being taken there in an ambulance and fled in a car that was waiting for her, leading police to think they had been tricked.
The woman was the passenger in a Honda Civic that was clocked speeding at more than 146km/h along State Highway 29.
The driver allegedly ignored police signals to pull over and just about prompted police to lay road spikes to stop him as he drove down the Kaimais about 9am.
Acting Senior Sergeant of the Western Bay of Plenty road policing unit Mark Holmes said they understood the car had come from Hamilton.
The driver will now face serious driving charges.
When police questioned the driver he said his friend was in labour. The 23-year-old woman had her feet spread out on the dashboard and claimed to be giving birth, while the expectant father was understood to have been in the back seat. The police officer called for an ambulance and part of the road was cordoned off as medical help arrived.
But when the woman arrived at hospital, she promptly discharged herself and hopped into a car with two people waiting, which then sped off through red traffic lights.
"I think she's tried using her pregnancy to put a smokescreen to give some justification for the driver's actions," he said.
"Saying 'I'm having a baby', she's just using that to her advantage."
The woman was seven-and-a-half months pregnant.
Mr Holmes said the car was clocked travelling at 124km/h near Ngamuwahine Rd and then more than 146km/h near McLaren Falls Rd. It was also seen driving dangerously around corners and towards oncoming traffic. Three police cars helped bring the driver to a stop and when they did passersby tooted their horns and gave the thumbs up, Mr Holmes said.
Staff from the hospital called police asking if they knew where the woman had gone after she had discharged herself. "It's just disappointing that someone would use their condition like that to their advantage," Mr Holmes said. "It's not just a waste of our time but a waste of the time of St John ambulance staff helping people who really need their help."
Mr Holmes said if anyone found themselves in a real situation like this the best thing to do was stop for police.
"We are probably the best people to help in those sorts of situations. We can certainly make calls and use our radios to help.
"If need be we can put the mum and expectant dad in the back of a police car and take them where they need to go."
A 23-year-old Mount Maunganui man who is a driver by occupation was arrested for dangerous driving-related charges. He has already lost his licence for 28 days.
"He put himself, his passengers and other members of the public at considerable risk," Mr Holmes said. "You lose control and crash at that speed and we are looking at a very serious crash, most likely with loss of life."