Statement from press conference, attributable to Superintendent John Price:
First of all I would like to say the death of these three young people is an absolute tragedy. On behalf of Police I would like extend our sympathies and sincere condolences to the families affected.
As you know, late last night three people died after fleeing from Police in Christchurch city. The fleeing vehicle crashed into a tree and caught fire after a short pursuit moments earlier.
Three people, believed to be aged in their teens, died at the scene, despite officers immediate efforts to save them.
I can assure the community that no officer wants an incident like this to happen I have spoken to the officers involved and they are devastated by what has happened. They attempted to rescue the driver and passengers from the vehicle but sadly this was not possible. The officers have received medical treatment as a result of their attempts to rescue the group and have also been offered welfare support. The officers did not go to work yesterday to do anything but keep our community safe and this is not the result they wanted at all.
These sort of incidents are always challenging, dynamic, and complex events for Police staff. Our focus is on preventing harm and keeping people safe on our roads.
Police always face a difficult balance in protecting the public from dangerous driving behaviour and potentially causing the offending drivers to take greater risks. I can confirm the vehicle was stolen last night and was travelling dangerously and at speed. In this event officers identified this dangerous behaviour that posed serious risk to the public and took this into consideration beforethey acted.
Police staff always assess the risk of pursuing fleeing drivers, and take every decision very seriously. This is continually reassessed throughout the fleeing driver event.
Police prefer that anybody who is signalled to stop by Police simply pull over and stop. It is not worth putting your life, your passengers life, or anyone else’s life at risk.
The circumstances surrounding the pursuit and the crash are being investigated so I am unable to release further details, but I can assure you this event will be investigated thoroughly, both by Police and by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
At this early stage we will not be releasing further details on the three people who died. We are currently working to inform all next of kin and our priority is that they are informed and supported before we let the public know their identities.
Once again I would like to extend my sincere condolences to the families concerned, as a Police officer and a parent of children I am devastated at this needless loss.
Issued by Police Media Centre