A top police officer today offered praise for the two officers who called off a vehicle chase in Christchurch overnight - despite the car crashing and killing two people less than a minute later.
"Obviously no officer comes to work to be involved in a situation like this where potentially innocent people lose their lives over a driver failing to stop," Canterbury Metro Commander Superintendent Lane Todd told media during a press conference today.
The single-car crash, which happened around 2.30am at the corner of Cuthberts Road and Breezes Road, resulted in the deaths of the male driver and a female passenger. A second passenger, a male, is at Christchurch Hospital with injuries, Mr Todd said.
Police have not yet identified the two who died and the area remains cordoned off as the investigation continues.
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has been contacted, as is standard in such situations. The officers' decision-making process will be reviewed as part of the wider investigation, Mr Todd said.
"Police followed the vehicle for less than a minute, and then abandoned the pursuit based on the driving of the vehicle involved," he said, explaining that the chase was initiated due to the "manner of the driving" the officers observed. "Less than one minute after police stopped following the vehicle, it was found crashed."
While "a minute may seem like a long time" to some, it can flash by in the blink of an eye while on the front line, the official said.
"What I would reiterate is this was an extremely short pursuit," he said. "They put that through the risk assessment and made the right decision."
Despite that, the pursuit had a tragic outcome that nobody wanted, Mr Todd acknowledged.
"Police encourage any driver who is signalled to stop by police to do just that," he said earlier today, and repeated again during the press conference. "It is not worth putting your life, your passenger's life, or anyone else's life at risk."