Police have been cleared over two pursuits which claimed the
lives of five young people last year.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) found the
crashes in Auckland and Wanganui were caused by the drivers.
The first crash happened on Massey Rd, Mangere, following a
police pursuit on May 11.
Driver Dominic Stehlin, 19, and passengers Viane Gaga, 18,
Uesitini Tootoo, 18, and George Lomia, 20, died.
In the second incident, 21-year-old learner driver Ayla
Nelson-Boyd was killed when a car crashed in Wanganui on
IPCA chairman Judge Sir David Carruthers said police had
complied with the law and police policy in both cases.
"Both incidents were caused by the actions of the drivers and
subsequently ended in tragedy," he said.
The first pursuit started after Mr Stehlin, an unlicensed
driver who had been prohibited from driving, failed to stop
for a red light and sped along Great South Rd in Papatoetoe.
The pursuit continued along State Highway 20, where he
momentarily lost control of his car and struck the left-hand
Mr Stehlin regained control of the car and continued driving
at speeds of up to 160km/h, but police abandoned the pursuit
in accordance with police policy.
A second pursuit started after Mr Stehlin overtook a patrol
car at the Massey Rd off-ramp. The pursuit was abandoned
after he showed no signs of stoping.
The car lost control at a right-hand bend 500 metres further
down the road. The car struck the kerb and slammed into a
parked Toyota Hilux on the other side of the road.
Mr Stehlin and Mr To'o To'o were killed instantly. The other
two passengers died later in hospital.
The IPCA found police complied with the law and police policy
in starting the pursuits and with regards to communication,
manner of driving, on-going risk assessment and abandonment
of the pursuits.
"This was a tragic accident caused by the actions of Mr
Stehlin, who was driving dangerously and in excess of the
blood alcohol limit for a person of his age," Sir David said.
"These actions resulted in the loss of life of four young
The IPCA said the second incident happened after Ms
Nelson-Boyd failed an alcohol test at a checkpoint in
Wanganui and had her keys confiscated by police.
Later that night, she got a spare set of keys to her car and
drove six friends to a party in Bulls.
When she returned to Wanganui, officers in a patrol car
suspected her car was overloaded because of the angle of its
Ms Nelson-Boyd failed to stop when police activated their
warning lights, and continued to evade police for 3.7km.
When the patrol car turned into Swiss Ave, the officers saw
her car had collided with a tree.
Officers immediately notified the police dispatcher and
requested an ambulance before helping the car's occupants.
Sir David said the pursuit lasted just over two minutes in a
residential, well-lit area of Wanganui.
"Police complied with the law and police policy in commencing
the pursuit and regularly assessed the level of risk
throughout the pursuit," he said.
"While in these instances the authority has not found any
breaches of police policy, the authority is continuing its
discussions with police about a review of policies connected
with the pursuit of fleeing drivers."