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A Runanga man, believed to be in his early 20s, died after the car he was in slammed into a house on High Street, Greymouth, around 11pm last night during a short police pursuit.
The body of a man killed in the crash remained in the vehicle this morning. He was not the driver.
His name would not be released until he had been formally identified.
Two other men, also believed to be in their 20's, are in Grey Base Hospital. One was operated on last night to remove a large piece of wood that had been impaled in his body and remained in the intensive care unit this morning.
Cayden Dash moved out of the High Street house at 4pm yesterday. Seven hours later a car crashed through his former bedroom.
"That was where my bed would have been," he said looking at a picture of the house this morning.
He had been given two weeks to move out, but had packed up earlier when he found a new place to live.
"If we hadn't gotten this house, we would still have been there," Mr Dash said.
Darren Claydon, who lived close to the crash scene, estimated the car would have been travelling between 120-150kph when it went past his house.
"He'd already lost it when he was out the front of my place on the corner ... he was slightly across the centre line at mine.
"It hit hard. I never heard the bang but I heard the skids."
He went outside to see what had happened and saw smoke coming out of the vehicle, which had been bent in half.
"As soon as you saw it you knew there would be a fatality."
West Coast police area commander Inspector John Canning said a homicide investigation had been launched.
"There are two reasons for this. One is because there was a pursuit, the other is because the driver is not dead and someone has to be culpable when there is a death."
Mr Canning said the constable involved in the pursuit was out of his vehicle, near the Catholic Church when he saw a white Subaru station wagon, travelling south, speed past him.
"The police officer decided it needed to be stopped. He jumped into his patrol car, turned on the siren and lights and a short pursuit followed."
The constable lost sight of the vehicle as it rounded the sweeping bend alongside the hospital, Mr Canning said.
"As the police officer came around the corner himself he found the vehicle had crashed into a house on the left hand side of High Street."
Speed and alcohol were believed to have played a part in the crash.
The officer involved in the pursuit had been stood down as per police procedure, Mr Canning said. Welfare services had been made available to him.
The pursuit will be investigated by the Independent Police Conduct Authority.
- Nicholas McBride and Viv Logie of the Greymouth Star