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Police cleared over crash deaths

Wairarapa police have been cleared by the Independent Police Conduct Authority (IPCA) over a pursuit in which two teenagers died in Masterton earlier this year

The IPCA report, released this morning, stated that both Masterton police officers involved in the incident were justified in commencing the pursuit, and complied with law and police policy, “in so far as they were able”.

Authority chair, judge Sir David Carruthers, said the crash was caused by the actions of the teenage driver which resulted in the “tragic and needless loss of life or serious injury” to young people.

In the early hours of Sunday January 31, two police officers saw a car driving at speed in Masterton.

A crash analysis determined the stolen vehicle was travelling along Queen Street at an average speed of 120kmh.

The officers assessed that the pursuit was too dangerous to continue, as the car was heading towards the centre of town and there were a number of pedestrians and vehicles in the area.

The officers abandoned pursuit, which had lasted a total of 30 seconds.

As the police car pulled over, the officers saw the car travel over five raised courtesy crossings at speed, then turn left sharply and crash.

When the officers drove up to the crash scene to assist the occupants, they found that the Honda contained four teenagers.

Two 15-year-old passengers, Pacer Willacy-Scott and Hoani Korewha, died as a result of the crash.

The 14-year-old driver and another passenger sustained minor injuries.

The IPCA found the Masterton pursuit was correctly abandoned when the risk to the public increased as the driver drove at speed towards the town centre.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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