Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Police driver tells crash inquest of pursuit

Police driver tells crash inquest of pursuit

A New South Wales police officer involved in a pursuit before a fatal car crash in Canberra last year has given evidence at a coronial inquest into the accident.

A family of three was killed instantly when their car was hit by a stolen vehicle on Canberra Avenue 12 months ago. (ABC News)

Scott Oppelaar, his partner Samantha Ford and their four-month-old son Brody were killed instantly when their car was hit by a stolen car on Canberra Avenue in Narrabundah on March 20, 2010.

The driver of that car, Justin Williams, also died from injuries sustained in the collision.

Police had been pursuing the stolen car from Queanbeyan south-east of the capital before the accident.

The driver of the police car in the pursuit, Constable Michael Hannaford, today took the stand in the ACT Coroner's Court.

He told the court, on the night of the pursuit he had observed a vehicle speeding through a roundabout in Queanbeyan.

He initiated his warning lights when they caught up to the car, and began a pursuit when it sped away.

He confirmed to the court he was travelling around 150 kilometres per hour during the pursuit.

Constable Hannaford told the court that during the pursuit he had hoped the driver would do a 'dump and run', and the officers might then be able to pursue on foot.

He said he had begun to lose ground on the car and was slowing down when he deemed the stolen car wouldn't stop and was endangering public safety.

He said seconds later he saw a plume of smoke and sparks.

Constable Hannaford said there had been no objection to the pursuit from his partner.