A 56-year-old Hamilton woman collapsed when she was giving an evidential breath test in the booze bus and died in the arms of the officers who were trying to resuscitate her.
Elizabeth Jill Gilbertson was travelling alone when she was stopped at the routine alcohol checkpoint on Cambridge Rd, in Hillcrest at about 10.15 on Sunday night. Ms Gilbertson was unable to complete the breath screening test and was taken into the booze bus to have an evidential breath test.
After several failed attempts of carrying out the breath test in the bus she collapsed from the chair, knocking her head as she fell a small distance to the ground.
The four police officers working at the check point carried out CPR on the woman and when St John arrived they spent a total of about 40 minutes trying to save the woman who died in the officers' arms.
Detective inspector Chris Page said the post mortem indicated she died of natural causes but the cause of death would be determined by the coroner. Ms Gilbertson sustained a cut to her head as she hit the floor but the pathologist believed this was "superficial" and had not contributed to the death.
The woman's family were in shock as they learnt of the woman's death and were working with police to determine whether she had any pre-existing medical conditions that may have contributed to her death.
"It's a surprise from the victim's family and they are finding it tough as well. There are some family members overseas and they are having to return to New Zealand so it's tough for everyone," Mr Page said.
The sergeant and three constables in the Traffic Alcohol Group who were working at the Cambridge Rd check point last night were getting support from police in what Mr Page said was a "challenging" and "tragic" situation.
Mr Page said it was too early to say whether the woman's breath/alcohol level and whether her shortness of breath contributed to her death and it was part of the ongoing investigation. A forensic test is still to be completed and police hoped this would contribute in the enquiry.
"Last night while they were attempting to do this a driver has died, literally in the officers' arms. In addition to ensuring the investigations being carried out are done so in a professional manner the Waikato Police will be working to ensure those staff affected by last night's events receive the appropriate support as well," he said.
An internal Police investigation is underway and the Independent Police Conduct Authority and the coroner had been informed of the incident.