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Young father named as victim of Dunedin fleeing driver crash

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Wed, 31 May 2023, 8:54am
The aftermath of the fatal crash on Saturday morning. Photo / Otago Daily Times
The aftermath of the fatal crash on Saturday morning. Photo / Otago Daily Times

Young father named as victim of Dunedin fleeing driver crash

Author
NZ Herald ,
Publish Date
Wed, 31 May 2023, 8:54am

The man killed fleeing police after a Dunedin bottle-store burglary was the father of a 2-year-old boy.

Death notices in today’s Otago Daily Times described the death of 26-year-old Michael McClelland as a “tragic and sudden devastating event”.

“From this moment on, we celebrate your life and your 2-year-old son for you,” one notice read.

A second death notice said McClelland was an adored and treasured member of the family.

Five people were in the car that crashed after the burglary of the Bottle-O store on Bathgate Rd.

Police were called to the burglary about 1.25am on Saturday morning.

When they arrived they found a “vehicle of interest” nearby and attempted to pull it over, but the driver fled the scene.

Less than a minute later, the car crashed in nearby Melbourne St, police said.

McClelland died at the scene. Police have not revealed if he was a passenger or the driver.

The occupants of the car were all aged in their 20s.

Two of the survivors were initially hospitalised with serious injuries, while one had minor injuries.

Southern District Commander Superintendent Paul Basham said the outcome was “the last thing anyone wants”.

“Incidents like this have huge impacts for everyone involved, those in the fleeing vehicle, as well as attending police.

“Our message to people is quite simple – if you are signalled to stop by police, then stop.

“The potential outcome is so much worse if you choose to flee.”

The owner of the bottle store at the centre of the fatal crash said earlier this week that he felt “callous” for not feeling sad about the death of a young person.

Bottle-O Hillside owner Michael Sumner said the suspects cut the locks off a storage garage with bolt cutters and took six crates of beer.

“It sounds really callous, but I’m not as upset as maybe everyone thinks I should be or could be.

“I’m sorry that it happened. I’m disappointed in the whole situation.

“But all that grief now, for such a small thing - $300 worth of beer - such a stupid thing.”

Sumner said he felt bad for police who would no doubt fall under the microscope again for high-speed pursuits.

“I know for the last 10 years, they’ve been getting bashed on for this sort of thing ... but I can’t blame the police.

“At 3.30am, they told me they had caught them but I didn’t know someone was hurt, so I was clapping my hands, thinking I’ll be able to stand in front of them in court and see who they are.”

- Additional reporting, Otago Daily Times

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