One dead, another critical after police chase ends in crash

Police were not pursuing the vehicle when it crashed. Photo credit: Getty

A 27-year-old man is dead and a second person is critical following a police pursuit in Whakatane.

Police say they signalled a vehicle to stop around 11pm on Saturday, but it sped off.

The pursuit was abandoned after less than a minute, with the fleeing vehicle's excessive speed posing too much of a risk.

Initial inquiries suggest the car then lost control on a right-hand bend before becoming airborne and hitting a large tree.

A third person received minor injuries.

The road was closed for a few hours, reopening at 3:30am.

The serious crash unit is investigating.

"While police were not pursuing the vehicle when it crashed, the circumstances surrounding both the pursuit and the crash will be thoroughly investigated and the Independent Police Conduct Authority notified," said Bay of Plenty road policing manager Insp Brent Crowe.