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Holiday period marred by a few incidents for emergency services

Apart from a double drowning at Ruapuke Beach and a car chase, the summer holiday period has been reasonably quiet for emergency services in Raglan.

Raglan constables credit a high police presence for keeping on top of any problems that can occur with an influx of tourists in town over the silly season, while the fire brigade and St John also reported an unremarkable Christmas break.

From December 28 to January 10 there were an extra 16 officers on duty at various times in Raglan, to help the three local officers, after complaints of drinking in the streets and fighting during the previous summer break.

Four people from Hamilton were arrested on Thursday last week following a police car chase from Raglan to Waingaro.

Constable Raewyn McLachlan, who was one of two police officers in pursuit of the stolen Mazda Demio, says the driver faces a raft of charges for driving offences, while all four occupants of the vehicle – the male driver, aged 30, two male teenagers aged 16 and 14, and a woman aged 20 – face charges of theft of a car and theft of petrol from a service station in Hamilton.

The car chase began outside the Poihakena Marae, went up Bow St, through Te Uku, and turned towards Waingaro, along Ohautira Rd.

The driver swerved to avoid police spikes laid out on Waingaro Rd and crashed through a fence and into a pole in a paddock, says Constable McLachlan.

It was lucky that no-one was hurt during the chase in town she says, and figures that the fleeing car got up to speeds of 70kmh-80kmh through Raglan.

“There were a lot of people in town and a lot of vehicles on the road, and when you have a fleeing driver who is motivated not to stop … you keep thinking he will stop, he will stop, because it’s dangerous, but he didn’t until he crashed.

“On the open road – it was such a little car and had four people in it – he probably got up to speeds of 130kmh max.”

The car had been stolen in Hamilton on Wednesday. The car chase in Raglan began after a person had spotted a man trying to break into a parked car and called the police at about 6pm.

Constable Dean McMillan says the drowning of two Chinese tourists on Christmas Day was “just a sad day, really”.

The number of drownings in New Zealand has been remarkably high this holiday period, he says, and it’s a shame that three of those drownings have been in the Raglan area.  The body of Cory Edgecombe Lilley, 17, from Hamilton, who was swept away in a rip at Raglan beach on November 26, has still not been recovered.

Constable McMillan says a group of six Asian tourists on work visas in New Zealand had gone for a swim at Ruapuke, and three of them – two men and one woman – had got into trouble in a rip.

“A member of the public assisted two back on shore and commenced CPR and the recovery position.”

The woman was unable to be resuscitated, and the man, aged 30, had been taken to Waikato Hospital by rescue helicopter, and later discharged.

A coastguard jet skier found the third person, a male aged 33, at the back of the rip, but he was also unable to be resuscitated.

On New Year’s Eve, police wrote out about 45 tickets for breaches of the alcohol ban. Overall during the summer break, 150 tickets – some of them $250 fines – were issued.

“We had a good police presence and sufficient numbers to be able to deal with anything that happened,” says Constable McMillan.

“It was just rats and mice stuff, really. Breaking the liquor ban and general disorder, pushing and shoving.”

On New Year’s Day, police stops just out of town on SH23 and near the museum caught 11 people who were driving while over the alcohol limit.

On Saturday night, the second night of the Soundsplash festival, seven people were caught at police stops.

Raglan fire chief Kevin Holmes says it was a very quiet holiday period for the volunteer brigade.

It has had only seven callouts since December 1, including the drowning at Ruapuke Beach and two car crashes, which weren’t serious.

“Fire-wise, it’s been quiet because it has been wet. We have consistently been having a bit of rain.”

St John territory manager Hugh Davison says the workload in Raglan for the Christmas break was “unremarkable, but that is a good thing”.

For the third year in a row, St John had increased the size of its paid crew in Raglan to deal with the growth in numbers over the summer break.

There had been nothing significant apart from the drownings at Ruapuke.

Meanwhile, Raglan Life Saving president Andrew Withers says Waipa District Council and an anonymous donor came up with a funding shortage of about $30,000 for patrols at Ngarunui Beach.

The beach would now be patrolled fulltime until the end of February, he says.

“That covers the school holidays which is our biggest stress.”

Inger Vos

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