Three teens died in a Christchurch crash after fleeing police – and officers needed medical treatment after attempting to rescue them from the burning vehicle.
It has also been confirmed the teens were in a car stolen earlier that night and that the vehicle crashed into a tree, dislodging the fuel tank, which then ruptured and erupted into a “ball of fire”.
Canterbury district commander Superintendent John Price told a press conference this afternoon that the vehicle had run over road spikes and then crashed into a tree, bursting into flames.
“This is absolutely a tragedy,” he said.
The stolen car was travelling in excess of 130km/h through city streets before road spikes were laid and the crash occurred.
Prior to the crash, the car had been involved in a pursuit with police for about one minute, Price said.
The officers identified the driving as “dangerous” and categorised the vehicle as a “serious risk to the public and took that into account” before laying the road spikes.
The first officers at the crash scene needed medical treatment after trying to free the trio from the burning car.
“They attempted to rescue the driver and the passengers from the vehicle, but sadly this was not possible due to the intense heat and fire.”
Price, who visited the scene last night, said a disaster victim identification team would now go through the process of formally identifying the people in the car.
He had spoken to the officers involved and said they were ‘absolutely devastated about what happened”.
“I can say these officers did not come to work to do anything other than to keep our community safe.”
Price said incidents like the crash were “always changing, dynamic and happening fast”.
Price urged motorists who were being followed by police to stop, rather than speed off.
Nearby resident Ruth Maxwell told Newstalk ZB she missed the crash by seconds.
“[There was] a loud whooshing sound … [I] looked out the window and saw the flames, couldn’t see much but a ball of fire. No one got out of the car.”
The car was stolen and the three killed were the driver, 16, and two boys aged 13, Stuff reported.
Police arrived soon after and quickly put up tents, she said.
The vehicle was seen speeding about 11.13pm in the CBD, Price said.
Police began a pursuit but it was abandoned “very quickly due to the manner of driving by the offending vehicle”.
“It is believed the car has continued to drive at speed on Blenheim Rd,” Price said.
Police laid spikes in an attempt to stop the vehicle.
The vehicle hit the spikes and crashed into a tree on Blenheim Rd outside a group of shops, catching fire.
“Police officers immediately went to help those in the vehicle.
However, tragically all three occupants died at the scene,” Price said.
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