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Hamilton Police are praising fire-fighters for the timely providing of equipment vital in the recovery of a hypothermic fleeing driver who tried to avoid arrest by hiding in the Waikato River overnight.
Shift Manager, Senior Sergeant Andrew O'Reilly, said events began shortly before midnight when Police went to stop a silver Toyota saloon on Hukanui Rd.
"The driver refused to stop and instead fled down Clarkin Rd at a speed of well over 100km/h before officers lost sight of the car.
"Police patrols began converging on the area and one pair of officers reached the Clarkin Rd/ River Rd intersection and noticed wheel marks going across the grass along River Rd, heading towards the Waikato River."
Mr O'Reilly said officers then found the car upside down in an area flooded by the river's overflow.
"A 19-year-old woman was found lying face up in the water while a 41-year-old man was found underneath her, trying to avoid detection by Police.
"Fire-fighters and paramedics combined to treat the pair before they were taken to Waikato Hospital by ambulance while Police officers launched the Hamilton Police rescue boat and arranged support from the Waikato River Harbour Master to put a second vessel in the water."
Mr O'Reilly said with the aid of a thermal camera provided by fire-fighters a 29-year-old man was located hiding in the river clinging to the bank about two hours after fleeing from the crash scene.
"We believe this person, who was wanted on a parole recall warrant, was the driver of the car, he was pretty relieved to be pulled out of the water even though he faced arrest and he was taken to Waikato Hospital for treatment for hypothermia.
"The thermal camera made all the difference, we had a Police Dog at the scene which kept trying to jump into the river and we thought it was being distracted by activity by the car upstream but the heat signature provided by the camera showed the dog was right and was trying to get into the water to get to the offender."
The crashed rental car was recovered from the water overnight and will be the subject of forensic analysis later today.
"The 41-year-old gang member found hiding under the woman was wanted on a warrant to arrest for outstanding fines and the $1,200 cash he had on him when arrested has been forfeited to the courts. Police enquiries today will focus on a quantity of what is believed to be methamphetamine recovered from the car.
"Given we still have a woman outstanding after eight weeks when her car crashed into the Waikato River its pretty disappointing someone will risk their own safety and the lives of others by jumping in the water in a vain attempt to avoid arrest.