A Wanaka police officer allegedly attacked inside his
patrol car by a drink-driver yesterday afternoon is the same
man seriously injured during what started as another routine
drink-driving stop just over six years ago.
Senior Constable Sean Hurley (52) was left bloodied and
bruised with minor injuries to his head, eye and ribs after
yesterday's incident, which happened in Makarora as he was
driving the alleged offender, a 72-year-old Haast man, to the
Wanaka police station.
In December 2007, a car dragged Snr Const Hurley 40m along
the road and through a fence, before smashing him into the
side of a building, after he tried to stop a teenage
drink-driver for a breath-test in Wanaka.
That incident left him with a broken leg, crushed feet and
extensive neck and shoulder ligament damage.
Yesterday, Snr Const Hurley stopped the motorist in Makarora
for a routine breath test about 3pm after road workers at the
Diana Falls slip site in the Haast Pass reported a suspected
drunk driver heading towards Wanaka on State Highway 6.
After failing the test, the motorist was asked to accompany
Snr Const Hurley to Wanaka and, on the way, is alleged to
have kicked the officer in the head and attempted to gouge
Wanaka sub-area commander Senior Sergeant Allan Grindell told
the Otago Daily Times Snr Const Hurley stopped the
vehicle after the assault and restrained the man, before
However, the man began ''playing up'' in the back seat again
as the car approached the Makarora Country Cafe, so Snr Const
Hurley pulled into the cafe forecourt, restrained him again
and radioed for urgent assistance, Snr Sgt Grindell said.
Two police cars and an ambulance were dispatched from Wanaka.
The Makarora Rural Fire Force also responded.
Cafe co-owner David Howe and another staff member assisted
Snr Const Hurley before the emergency services arrived.
''He just wanted some help. He wanted somebody else there to
give him support really,'' Mr Howe said.
''[I was] observing to make sure the person he had under
arrest was still breathing because he was lying down on the
back seat. So, we just made sure that everyone was safe.''
Snr Const Hurley had ''a few bruise marks on his face and he
had blood on him ... he was quite shaken up'', Mr Howe said.
The motorist was transported by other police to the Wanaka
station and is likely to face charges relating to
drink-driving and assaulting a police officer.
Snr Sgt Grindell was unable to confirm the man's
breath-alcohol or blood-alcohol readings.
Snr Const Hurley was treated at Wanaka's medical centre and
was last night in ''pretty good spirits for what's
happened'', Snr Sgt Grindell said.
An attack on a staff member, although upsetting, was a risk
of rural policing, he said.
''... it brings it home to us about taking extra care.''
While the incident was not the sort commonly experienced by
Wanaka officers, it highlighted the ''unpredictability and
difficulties'' of managing people who had consumed large
quantities of alcohol, Snr Sgt Grindell said.
Police are developing a prototype protective screen that
would be fitted for extra protection between the front and
back seats of the vehicles of one and two-person stations.
It was reported in the March Police News magazine that
subject to successful testing, the screens would be fitted to
new vehicles as they were rolled out to those stations.
The idea was suggested by Southern District police when ideas
for improving police vehicle use were invited.
Asked for his views on protective screens in police vehicles,
Snr Sgt Grindell said they were helpful in rural areas,
particularly in a ''one-man patrol'' situation.