The Chase is a four-day Herald series looking at police pursuits and fleeing drivers. Since January 2008 there have been more than 30,000 pursuits, hundreds of crashes and 79 deaths. The series runs from Monday to Thursday ahead of a joint review of pursuits by police and the IPCA which will be released on Friday.

Claire begged the fleeing driver to stop.

She did, said, everything she could think of to get Dylan Kingi to pull over, to take his foot off the accelerator.

He didn't listen.


The police were in hot pursuit, lights and sirens blaring as they cut through the streets of Gisborne at "terrifying" high speeds.

Still Kingi wouldn't hit the brakes.

Minutes later he and two of his passengers - two of his mates - were dead.

"We were in a 50km/h zone and we came up to a corner, it was quite tight and you wouldn't have been able to get around it at 50km - we hit it at well over 100km," she recalled.

"I remember the tyres coming off the road and I just thought 'oh s**t'.

"After that I just remember snippets of being trapped, of the horn going, of calling out to them but everyone was dead.

"I managed to scramble out a tiny little gap then the policeman arrived.

"He had been looking for us, he heard the accident, he saw me climbing out… the next thing I remember I was in the hospital."


Years have passed and Claire's physical injuries healed, but she can never get away from that night, that moment.

It was July 2012 when it happened.

Kingi, 28, and passengers Peter Bunyan, 27 and Holly Gunn, 25, died instantly when the Mitsubishi sedan left the road and slammed into a concrete pole.

The only survivor was Claire, Bunyan's girlfriend, who managed to crawl out of the mangled wreckage as her mates lay dead around her.

"I remember everything," she said.

"I have really bad Post Traumatic Stress Disorder so that's what I do every day - remember the whole lot."

The night of the crash Claire was at a friend's house with Bunyan, her boyfriend of five months, and Gunn, who was a fellow trainee nurse.

Kingi was Bunyan's mate.

The four decided they wanted to go to another party and as they had all been drinking, they organised for a sober driver to come and pick them up.

Claire and Gunn - a mother of three - got into the backseat and Bunyan took the front passenger seat.

Claire moved to the middle to make room for Kingi as they waited for their driver.

Suddenly Kingi leapt into the driver's seat.

The passengers told him "no" and asked him to get in the back.

"He wanted to drive," said Claire.

"I spent time pleading with him to get in the back… I thought he was going to jump in and he just started up the car and flew out of the driveway.

"All I could do was quickly pull my door shut and put on my seatbelt, he took off driving pretty erratically.

"It was terrifying."

The three victims of the crash - from left - driver Dylan Kingi, Holly Kay Gunn and Peter Bunyan. Photos / Facebook
The three victims of the crash - from left - driver Dylan Kingi, Holly Kay Gunn and Peter Bunyan. Photos / Facebook

Kingi, who had previous convictions for drink driving, hooned past a police car.

"The whole time I'm asking him to pull over, begging him to stop," said Claire.

"We drove past my house and I asked him to stop so I could get a jacket because I was cold - I was just trying to make up any excuse to get out of the car and get my friends out of the car.

"He just wouldn't listen."

The police put their lights and sirens on, a clear indicator they wanted Kingi to stop.

His foot didn't move off the accelerator.

"He started to go towards my boyfriend's house and I thought 'good, he's going to pull into the driveway'," Claire said.

"We were nearly there and I thought it was almost over, but he went past the house.

"We came off the side of the road and hit some concrete blocks on a verge, put there to stop people from parking, then back onto the road.

"He floored it, we were just going so fast.

"I was looking out the back window and I couldn't see the police anymore, I was saying to him 'you've lost them, please slow down, please pull over'."

Claire tried to convince Kingi that the police would not know who was driving and no one in the car would say a word.

"Of course I was going to dob him in, but I just wanted to get out."

Seconds later Kingi crashed the car.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority would later reveal police reached speeds of 127km/h in a 50km/h zone trying to catch up to Kingi.

When they lost him, they abandoned the pursuit.

The pursuit officially covered about 2.5km and lasted for about one and a half minutes.

After speaking to some pedestrians the pursuing officer worked out where Kingi had driven.

He found the wreckage shortly after.

The IPCA found that the officer was justified in pursuing Kingi - but that he should have abandoned the chase shortly after due to the high speeds the fleeing driver was reaching.

It also ruled that the officer did not comply with some aspects of the police pursuit policy and that the communications centre dispatcher mistakenly recorded inaccurate information about the applicable speed limit, which "ultimately misled the pursuit controller about the true extent of the risks involved in the pursuit".

As a result of the crash the authority made a number of recommendations to police including the digital roll-out and the implementation of hands-free technology in all operational vehicles and amending the fleeing driver policy to require officers to state a specific reason for commencing a pursuit.

It took Claire a long time to heal from the physical injuries she sustained in the crash.

She tore a ligament in her ankle and had a broken bone in her leg.

Her injuries spelled the end of her nursing training.

She was in too much pain to carry on.

Mentally, Claire still bears the scars of that terrifying night.

"I've had PTSD and last year I had to go to the hospital and that triggered everything again," she said.

"I've been struggling to get through every day, I just think about it all the time.

"The whole thing was just horrific, I was terrified for my life."

Claire said while Kingi was at fault for the crash, the police did not help the situation.

She was pleased the IPCA had made the recommendations and was interested to see what the latest review would bring.

She believed police should not pursue at all in some cases, preferring them to track the drivers and "bring them to justice" later.

"If they're not going to stop, they're not going to stop," she said.

"What's going to stop them? An accident basically, or they run out of gas.

"I don't think chasing people driving that erratically helps.

"But at the same time, I don't want anyone to think, 'If I put my foot down I'll get away with it' - it's such a hard one."

Claire spoke out in a bid to give more insight into pursuits and to help educate people on how and why they happen.

She wanted to get her message across loudly and clearly.

"Just pull over," she said.

"Some people have this invincibility thing about them, my friend Dylan had that kind of attitude.

"Getting in trouble with the police is going to be a lot better than having to go through killing your friends.

"If Dylan had lived I know he would have regretted that he killed his best friend, that he killed my friend, that he nearly killed me.

"He killed himself and he had two little kids - any trouble he would have gotten in with police would have been better than having an accident.

"There are just so many people you are putting at risk - cyclists, pedestrians, other drivers - when you flee police … I just don't think some people understand and they need to just face up to it."

Claire also wanted fleeing drivers to consider their passengers, who were totally unable to get out of the situation once it kicked off.

"The control was taken out of my hands and I was put into that situation which wasn't fair - it's really ruined my life," she explained.

"I might have survived but it has had a very detrimental impact on me and it will be with me forever."