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Mana Whanonga Pirihimana Motuhake

Review of Police actions prior to a fatal vehicle collision

3 March 2020

On 3 July 2017, an intoxicated driver in Canterbury was involved in a fatal vehicle collision. The Authority oversaw a Police investigation into whether Police had done enough to stop the intoxicated man from driving.

Police responded to complaints of poor driving and when the driver was located, he was detained by Police to undertake breath test procedures. He was subsequently forbidden to drive and summonsed to appear in Court. Police returned the driver to where he was staying that night, and noted he did not have car keys with him.

Police were later told the driver had returned to his car and driven away. This information was not broadcast to all Police in the area as it should have been.

Due to further complaints of poor driving, the vehicle was located and stopped again. The attending officer tried to take the keys from the vehicle but they could not be removed. The driver and his passenger became aggressive toward the officer who called for back-up. While he was doing this, the car drove off. Seconds later, the vehicle crashed into oncoming traffic. Tragically, the drivers of both vehicles died.

The investigation highlighted key learning opportunities which have since been addressed with the officers and Communications staff involved. In particular, Police now train communications staff differently in the recording and broadcasting of incidents such as this one.

The Authority agreed with the outcome of the Police investigation.

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