Fleeing driver abandons flaming car and jumps into river
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
State Highway 2 near Tauranga was closed as police chased a fleeing driver seen jumping out of a flaming car and into the Wairoa River.
The man is understood to have run into the water and swum towards the ocean, during a police pursuit on SH2 in the Te Puna and Whakamarama area.
An eyewitness at the scene, Tauranga's Willie Uili, yelled out to the man who jumped into the Wairoa River - urging him back to land. Uili told him whatever he had done "was not worth drowning for".
Police shut down both ends of the Wairoa Bridge, creating gridlock for motorists in the area.
A photographer at the scene said the car was still on fire and was about 200m away from the bridge.
"The bridge is closed down and people are standing around because they can't go anywhere.
"The fire truck still have not arrived yet, so the car is on fire."
Photo / George Novak
The pursuit is understood to have happened about 9.30am on SH2, however no information was available from police other than they were still looking for a driver who fled from them earlier.
A police communications spokesman said officers began a pursuit of a driver who did not stop for them near Athenree Rd at 9.20am. The car was understood to be travelling towards Tauranga.
The pursuit was abandoned shortly later, she said.
Officers were still in the area looking for the vehicle, she said.
The pursuit follows a call from the Automobile Association that the Government should review its police pursuit policy and consider the merits of an outright ban.
Photo / George Novak
Yesterday, three people involved in a high-speed chase in the Tasman district were killed - part of a deadly weekend on the country's roads that claimed eight lives.
AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said one-in-five police pursuits ended in crashes. Banning pursuits was "something we should look at and see how it is working in other conditions".
The comment drew qualified support last night from the Police Association, which told the NZME "everything should be on the table" - though added any changes shouldn't be a knee-jerk reaction to tragic events.
The driver fleeing police near Nelson tried to overtake a truck about 5.40am on Sunday but collided with an on-coming vehicle on State Highway 6, killing three people.
One of the victims was an innocent motorist in the oncoming car.
On average, about 10 drivers flee police every day. Between October 2016 and September last year, seven deaths and 552 crashes were recorded. Six people have died in police pursuits in the last five months alone.
Yesterday's crash brought the year's national road toll to 77 - nine more than at the same time last year.
- Bay of Plenty Times