POLICE have named the three people killed in a car crash in Gisborne on Saturday night.
They are Dylan Kingi, 28, Holly Gunn, 25 and 27-year-old Peter Bunyan, all from Gisborne.
The car was reported to be destroyed after smashing through trees and fences before hitting a power-pole.
Emergency services say it is a miracle the only survivor, 25-year-old Claire Badger, walked away from the accident.
The car was said to be “still live” after making contact with the electric wires carried by the pole.
Firefighters had to make the scene safe before they could do anything.
Miss Badger, a trainee nurse, is said to be in a stable condition in ICU today but St John operations team manager Shane Clapperton says she is lucky to be alive.
“It’s a miracle she is still with us.
“I don’t understand, and I’ll never understand how she was able to get out of that car.
“But she was able to communicate with us at the scene of the crash before being taken to hospital.”
Police say the driver of the white Mitsubishi car drove off after officers tried to stop it near Wi Pere Street. The driver fled along Stout Street at speeds “well in excess” of the 50kmh limit.
After chasing the car for about 90 seconds, police say they lost sight of it at the intersection of Lytton and Nelson roads.
After speaking to witnesses, police say they continued to search for the car and found it crashed into the power pole on a bend in the road about two minutes later.
The car was first noticed by an officer when it was driven at speed in the opposite direction at about 9.40pm, said acting area commander Senior Sergeant Maui Aben.
“He turned and started his blue and red flashing lights but the car did not stop.”
Due to the driver’s speed, police lost sight of it.
Police continued to look for the car and spoke to several witnesses before coming across the wreckage a short time later.
It was not known why the car driver fled from police, said Sen Sgt Aben.
A Nelson Road resident said the car was travelling “at high speed down Nelson Road”.
“The car couldn’t wind up any more . . . the revs were so high.”
She said when police drove past, they “were not chasing the car”.
Police Minister Anne Tolley described the accident as “tragic”.
However, as there were separate police and Independent Police Conduct Authority investigations into the crash and circumstances surrounding it, she would not comment further.
Attention now turned to the welfare of the families affected by the deaths, as well as members of the emergency services who attended the scene, said Senior Sergeant Mick Lander.
“Police understand the obvious grief that will be involved and there are victim support services available to the immediate families,” he said.
“Our own staff can also be deeply affected by incidents like this and are offered support through internal welfare systems.”
Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon said the driver of the car made “a wrong decision” when he decided to flee police.
“I’m sorry to the families for their sad loss. I have three children of my own and my thoughts are with you.”