Cop Chase

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Footsteps, yarns and little fibs

Breaking my peace was a siren as the police chased a car past my place.

Cop Chase

It’s a bit different now, but most Saturday mornings I used to spend around three happy hours watering the plants I grew in pots around my one and a half acre garden. I’ll acknowledge it wouldn’t be everybody’s cup of tea, but anyway, then and even today I persist in using a watering can, because it allows me to check each plant, look for aphids and I sometimes add in a liquid fertiliser. I suppose it’s always been a hobby of mine.

The bonus of living in the countryside was that as I watered my plants, I had the privilege of listening to birdsong as I worked, and in my way of it, I spoke to the birds as they fluttered around me. One morning my peace was broken by the sound of a siren, first in the distance, but approaching from the south. I was surprised when a nondescript car came speeding along our road, too fast for me to see who was driving! He was closely followed by a police car with flashing lights and blaring siren, and he was followed by a second police car, travelling silently but with its red and blue lights flashing too. Such action was a rarity in our quiet neck-of-the-woods, but I knew the runaway had little chance of getting away, because there’s no way out up our road.

The road crosses the Waianakarua River, over a one-lane bridge and shortly after there’s a T intersection. To the left there’s a gravelled road of perhaps three kilometres that has no exit. I visualised the scatter of rabbits if the three cars used that route. There are two squatter camps, rough huts that had been shifted onto the road reserve, where the ‘owners’ camped some weekends and during holidays. Nobody complained about them, so they’ve stayed there for years. But certainly, there would be no way out for the fleeing car… but anyway, they didn’t go that way.

Turning right, they could go further but not to the freedom they sought. Old Alan the MP had seen to it that there was tarseal for the short distance to where Middle Ridge Road climbed steeply to the left. Middle Ridge goes on for miles but only a couple of kilometres up, the forest company has erected a heavy steel barrier arm so, without the key, it was a virtual no exit. Old Alan had lived up there and it was he who had pushed for the tarseal on the steep part of the hill because when it was gavel, corrugations became a problem, even for us towing fire trailers up there. But the runaways didn’t choose Middle Ridge either.

Breakneck Road officially starts at the foot of Middle Ridge Road, it crosses a shallow concreted ford and takes a sharp left turn up the hill. It’s hard to see, but there is a track bearing slightly to the right, dropping into Cosy Dell, and they might have been able to get away… if they managed to cross the river. Most two wheel drive vehicles get stuck crossing from this side because gravels are washed away from under the wheels. I’ve pulled many-a vehicle out of there! But I doubt the runaways even noticed the track.

The bottom part of Breakneck Road climbs across a steep, rocky face, and because it was carved out of the schist rock by hand, it’s quite narrow. I smiled as I remembered the brothers Gordon and Doug, who owned the sheep run further up the hill. With either of them charging one way and me not going too slow the other… near misses and frights were aplenty! Going over the side wasn’t much of an option, it was steep as a hen’s face and a long way to the bottom! Just for the record, old Gordon had been a horse racing commentator, and I recalled the sound of his voice.

Breakneck Road was so-named after what happened to oxen hauling pit-sawn timber out of the indigenous forest. Further up the road, there’s a very steep pinch, so steep that we built roads each side of the hill to avoid it. It was way too steep for average vehicles. Anyway, once or twice, the load of timber pushed the oxen out of control, down the hill and the wagonload of timber careened over the poor buggers, breaking their necks! Well before the infamous steep section, the forest company had erected yet another of those heavy steel barriers, so there was nowhere out on this road either, and it was the road they road they took!

I’d lived there for thirty odd years at the time, and considered the whole area as my back yard, so I reckoned if it was me doing the chasing, I’d have parked one of the cop cars on the one-way bridge, or asked a local to do so. I’d barely finished my musing, when I heard the siren coming back! How the… and sure enough, the chased car came rocketing back past me, and out to the main road! They headed north with the two cop cars in hot pursuit! I just couldn’t fathom how the carload of numbnuts had managed to outwit the cops!

Later, I found out. Close to the barrier arm on Breakneck Road, is the entrance to Tom’s farm, his crutching shed and sheep yards. The forest company had built a small turn-around area to help Tom and stop casual Sunday drivers turning around in his driveway. The chased car realised there was no escape, so turned around and stopped on the (to them) left had side going down. Both cop cars pulled up beside them leaving the road wide open! The numbnut driver quickly cranked the car and sped off, leaving the cops red-faced and chewing dust!

I suppose they were townie cops with no local experience, so I don’t what to be overly critical of them, but I found it hilarious. Road spikes were later used and the runaways were finally caught, so the cops’ job was done anyway. For me it was a good Saturday morning’s entertainment.


Submitted: November 21, 2020

© Copyright 2020 moa rider. All rights reserved.

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