Car crashes, tak­ing man’s life

Cambridge Edition - - FRONT PAGE - PHILLIPA YALDEN

Michael Ritchie couldn’t face hold­ing the crit­i­cally in­jured woman’s hand.

Driv­ing the coun­try’s high­ways for a liv­ing, the Cam­bridge fa­ther has of­ten seen the af­ter­math of ac­ci­dents.

But to ar­rive home from a week-long work trip to find car­nage on his doorstep was enough to bring the typ­i­cally staunch truckie to tears.

‘‘To hop out and see that on your own front yard - to watch some­one die - that got to me af­ter all the miles I have done.’’

Ritchie had not long been home when he heard the ‘‘thud, thud, thud’’ as the flee­ing red sedan rolled down Scott St in Leam­ing­ton.

A 27-year-old male pas­sen­ger from Hamil­ton died at the scene. Two other pas­sen­gers - in­clud­ing the woman thrown from the car - were in Waikato Hos­pi­tal.

Po­lice charged the 34-year-old driver, who al­legedly fled from a po­lice of­fi­cer who tried to pull him over in Cam­bridge.

An off-duty po­lice of­fi­cer spot­ted the car speed­ing and driv­ing dan­ger­ously and called po­lice.

When a po­lice unit caught up with the car and flicked on the sirens and lights, the driver sped away down Scott St.

About half­way down the street the car mounted the kerb, hit the back of a parked car, and smashed into a wooden fence pro­pel­ling it into the air.

One of the pas­sen­gers, a woman in her early 20s, was flung from the car. She landed on the grass verge, next to a power pole, on the cor­ner op­po­site where the car ended up.

‘‘I found her and when I got there - there was no life in her. I thought it was a body. She was barely breath­ing,’’ Ritchie said.

Ritchie’s neigh­bour came run­ning over. She brought blan­kets.

‘‘One of the ladies started talk­ing to her and hold­ing her hand. But I’ve been through it be­fore and I didn’t want to hold her hand, didn’t want to get at­tached.’’

Emer­gency ser­vices ar­rived and be­gan CPR on one of the two re­main­ing pas­sen­gers.

Fur­ther down the street, Peter An­drea­son saw the driver jump out of the car with­out a scratch.

‘‘He tried to bunk it, but we saw him,’’ An­drea­son said.

The driver made it al­most to the street cor­ner be­fore other res­i­dents grabbed him and brought him back to the crash scene, he said.

The driver was to ap­pear in Hamil­ton District Court.

Peter An­drea­son was sip­ping cof­fee in his lounge when the flee­ing driver crashed into his fence.

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