Date: May 16 2012
Victoria Police won't concede they made a mistake in using private vehicles to block an erratic speeding driver on a busy freeway.
This follows a highway patrol unit's order for motorists to use their cars to blockade the Hume Freeway, with police saying officers had done their best to reduce the risk to the community.
Assistant Commissioner Steve Fontana spoke about Saturday's ''rolling roadblock'' after motorist David Rendina told ABC Radio he and other drivers were ordered to park across the Hume Freeway in Melbourne's outer north to block a speeding driver in a stolen car.
Mr Rendina said he was in his ute with his partner and two young children when the speeding car crashed into them in the emergency lane.
''Police have pulled out from the emergency lane and stopped all vehicles heading south,'' Mr Rendina told ABC 774 on Tuesday.
He said he felt like a ''sitting duck'' as the speeding car approached and hit his vehicle.
''I just remember seeing him speeding towards me and going, 'Well there's nothing I can do here, I just have to sit here'.''
The driver of the speeding car then hit three other vehicles, suffering minor injuries, although no-one else was hurt.
Mr Fontana said police started pursuing the driver for about three minutes from Glenrowan in north-east Victoria about 11am on Saturday, but abandoned the chase and instead tracked the driver from a police helicopter.
''The concern raised by the air wing who were observing the behaviour of this driver was … 'This person needs to be stopped, he's going to kill someone','' Mr Fontana told reporters.
Members of a highway patrol unit decided to use civilian drivers to slow the driver down and block him with their cars. Mr Fontana conceded ''people were put at risk'' by the tactic, which he had not seen used before. It was being reviewed and was unlikely to be repeated.
''This one well, yeah, we could do it better and I think that's what we're here to learn from and we'll just be most likely saying this is not on in terms of those rolling type roadblocks.''
But he would not concede it was a mistake, saying it was a difficult decision made in dangerous and rapidly unfolding circumstances.
''Our members did not go out there to intentionally put others at risk, they were trying to do their best to actually reduce the risk to anyone in the community.''
He said the tactic had worked in so far as the speeding driver ''slowed right down'' before hitting anyone. Drivers of the damaged cars would be recompensed and offered counselling if required.
A 19-year-old man, believed to be a learner driver, has been charged with theft of a motor car, two counts of theft, four charges of reckless conduct endangering life and traffic offences. AAP
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