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Family 'devastated' after teen dies after police pursuit

Published: 9:05AM Wednesday February 06, 2013 Source: ONE News

The family of a teenage driver who died following a police pursuit in Hamilton are "devastated", police say

The 17-year-old man died at the scene after crashing into a stone retaining wall near the intersection of Wexford Rise in Nawton shortly before 2am.

A male front seat passenger suffered serious leg injuries in the crash, while a female rear seat passenger, who was wearing a seatbelt, was unscathed.

"The young man's family are understandably devastated by what has happened," said District Commander, Superintendent Win van der Velde.

Van der Velde said family liaison officers were working with them.

"Tragically this young man, because of a combination of what in isolation could be accepted as minor poor judgements, has paid with his life and left a number of people having to come to terms with his loss."

He said a police officer saw a car travelling on Rotokauri Rd with no headlights on around 1.48am.

"The officer has activated his lights and siren, advised North Comms he is trying to stop a fleeing driver, become concerned about the nature of the offender's driving and advised he is abandoning the pursuit then witnessed the crash all in less than a minute.

"The offending car travelled approximately 1500m from when it was first seen to when it came to a violent halt, in that short distance our officer had to go from carrying out a routine traffic stop to fighting to save a young man's life and this is the huge expectation we place on our officers."

District Road Policing Manager Marcus Lynam said earlier today that the "17-year-old driver was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene despite first aid attempts of the officer and efforts by attending ambulance staff".

Van der Velde said the tragedy could have been avoided.

"Here we have a young man in the prime of his life who chose to drive in breach of his learner driver's licence conditions which prohibited him from driving at that hour of the night and from carrying passengers.

"The ramifications of that decision were further compounded by his decision, when seen driving without his headlights on, to then accelerate away from police when lights and sirens were activated to indicate for him to stop," van der Velde said.

Van der Velde said the crash will be the subject to a criminal investigation, a Coronial investigation and a procedural investigation conducted by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.

He said the police investigation will be overseen by an independent out-of-district senior investigator.

Lynam said it appeared the police officer followed appropriate procedures.

"While extending our sympathies to the family of the deceased we are also ensuring the appropriate welfare steps are being taken in relation to our officer who has gone from initiating a routine traffic stop for a vehicle being driven with no lights to having to try and save a young man's life," he said.