A young woman has died after her vehicle slid out of control and smashed into a power pole during a police chase near Palmerston North.

Police also confirmed a 15-year-old boy who was driving had been taken to Palmerston North Hospital in a critical condition. Another passenger is seriously hurt.

The fatality is the seventh death resulting from a police pursuit this year.

Central District commander Superintendent Sue Schwalger said the driver failed to stop for police before crashing into a power pole on State Highway 56 at the intersection of Pioneer Highway and Shirriffs Rd.


The crash happened at Longburn about 1.30pm.

A young woman who was the vehicle's front seat passenger died at the scene.

O'Leary Engineering owner Dean Sandbrook said he had just hung up his phone when the car went flying past his office window.

"I heard the noise and turned and I saw the car sliding ... it all went very quickly like a flash and the next thing I know it's hit the power pole.

"The car was in the air and ended up in the ditch and then the power pole came back down landing on top of the car with all three people still in the car," Sandbrook said.

The car had hit a main line so the power was out, he said.

"It's going to be a big job to fix," Sandbrook said.

Fire and Emergency also attended the crash scene.


The road has been closed and diversions are in place.

Today's tragedy is the seventh death involving police pursuit crashes this year.

The rising toll has sparked calls for a hastened review on police pursuit policy and a potential outright ban on chases.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority is currently undertaking a review of the policy, but it is not expected to release a report until October or November. The review is the seventh on the policy in 20 years.

Police Minister Stuart Nash told Radio New Zealand earlier this month that he supported the review but did not believe a ban on police pursuits was the right answer.

"I am of the belief that we don't end police chases. To say to police to never chase I think is the wrong thing to do," he said.

"Then there would be a whole lot of people who would know they just need to put their foot down and they're away scot-free. I don't think that is the right approach."

Nash said he believed traffic offences, which impel most pursuits, are a serious enough offence to warrant these potentially life-threatening chases.

IPCA Judge Colin Doherty said this month he hoped the latest review would "enable us to better identify changes to policy or practice that are required".

The crash is understood to have happened just before 2pm at the corner of Pioneer Highway and Shirriffs Rd. Image / Google Maps
The crash is understood to have happened just before 2pm at the corner of Pioneer Highway and Shirriffs Rd. Image / Google Maps

National road policing manager Superintendent Steve Greally said fleeing drivers put themselves, staff, and the public at risk.

"Police have to balance protecting the public from dangerous driving behaviour and the potential for the offending driver to take greater risks.

"Every situation is different and our staff have to make split-second decisions in demanding circumstances," he said.

"Police staff always assess the risk of pursuing fleeing drivers and take every decision very seriously, and continually reassess the risk throughout the incident."

He said the review gives police the opportunity to examine common themes and issues collectively, rather than looking at incidents in isolation.

"The one thing we want everybody to understand is if they're signalled to stop by police, they should pull over and stop.

"It is not worth putting your life, your passenger's life, or anyone else's life at risk."

Four other people have died in May as a result of a police pursuit.

Bailey Patmore, 15, died in a crash during a police pursuit on May 19.

Bailey, from Cannons Creek in Porirua, was travelling with five other passengers in a small hatchback and had squeezed into the boot.

The car, which had been reported stolen, crashed on State Highway 1 south of the Tawa off-ramp killing Bailey. The other passengers - four teenagers and one 21-year-old - all had minor injuries.

Phillip Allan Taylor, 32, was killed after a police chase in New Plymouth.

Taylor, of New Plymouth, died in a crash on Tarahua Rd, after trying to flee police on May 7.

A 25-year-old driver died after crashing into a tree after a short police pursuit on May 11.

In March three people were killed following a police chase in Nelson - one was a bystander.

Johnathan Tairakena, 25, and Phillip Jamie Stretch, 33, died in a crash as they fled police, with 53-year-old Carmen Marie Yanko also losing her life in the incident.

Yanko was believed to be travelling to a Sunday market, where she operated a stall, when she was killed.