It was lucky that no-one was injured, including a police officer, as a stolen scaffolding truck was driven around local roads at speed before crashing in flames.
The incident took place on Sunday, August 11.
The driver appears to have travelled a considerable distance, with sightings and near misses in Albany, on Whangaparaoa Road and the Coatesville Riverhead Highway.
Stanmore Bay resident Samara Maurice and her brother say they were nearly hit by the truck as it sped along Whangaparaoa Road.
“He must have been going around 90kph, was running red lights and blasting his horn,” Samara says. If my brother had not swerved, he would have hit us. It was terrifying.”
She says the driver was close to hitting several other cars as he continued down Whangaparaoa Road – another resident described the truck passing them as it travelled down the median strip on Whangaparaoa Road “doing at least 100kph”.
Sue Berger says she is lucky to be alive as the truck missed her “by millimetres” as it ran a red light when she was turning onto Whangaparaoa Road.
Waitemata North Police area commander, Inspector Mark Fergus says after receiving a number of calls from members of the public regarding the offenders alleged dangerous driving, Police located the vehicle driving along Old North Road.
“The vehicle failed to stop for Police and a pursuit was initiated,” Inspector Fergus says.
Road spikes were used to slow the vehicle, and the Police Eagle helicopter provided overhead observation.
“A fire started in the front of the vehicle, yet despite this the driver allegedly continued to drive in a dangerous manner until the vehicle crashed into bank on Coatesville Riverhead Highway,” Inspector Fergus says.
The alleged offender fled from the vehicle but was caught by Police a short time later.
A 24-year-old man appeared in the North Shore District court on August 12, facing a number of charges. The charges include unlawfully taking a motor vehicle, failing to stop for Police, excess breath alcohol, operating a motor vehicle recklessly and assaulting a person with a blunt instrument.
Inspector Fergus says it was fortunate that no one was injured during this incident, including a police officer who was out of his patrol vehicle trying to direct the public away from the path of the stolen vehicle.
“The officer was nearly hit by the defendant who allegedly drove directly towards him,” Inspector Fergus says.
This led to the charge of assaulting a person with a blunt instrument – the instrument in question being the vehicle itself.
Thankful resident praises Police, Tracy Du Plessis says she could have lost both her sons in a horrific crash if the Police had not been ahead of the truck driver on the Coatesville Riverhead Highway waving other vehicles off the road as it approached.
She says her 20-year-old son Connor was driving his younger brother Liam, 14, home through Dairy Flat. At the top of the Coatesville Riverhead Highway, as the pair approached a sharp bend, a policeman “frantically waved them off the road”.
Seconds later, the truck sped around the bend on the wrong side of the road.
“Liam said it was like a scene from a movie – the truck was being driven at speed on its rims and there were sparks flying as it took the corner,” Tracy says. “They both saw the Police officer jump out of the truck’s path.”
“Had the cop not pulled them over, they would have been right on that bend. I know he was just doing his job, but by doing so, he could have saved my sons’ lives and I am eternally grateful.”