A POLICE watchdog is investigating after a car crashed during an early-morning high-speed police chase.
The 22-year-old front-seat passenger of a grey MG Rover was rushed to James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough, after it crashed into a tree in Catcote Road, Hartlepool, near the junction with Stowmarket Close.
Police say the driver of the car left the scene.
The passenger had to be cut free from the wreckage and complained of back injuries.
The incident has been referred to Cleveland Police’s Professional Standards Department and the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
A Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “Police are appealing for information following a road traffic collision in Hartlepool.
“Shortly after midnight on Monday, May 26, a grey MG failed to stop for police on The Front.
“Police began to follow the car and a short time later it was in collision with a tree on Catcote Road.
“The driver of the car left the scene.
“The front seat passenger of the car, a 22-year-old local man, was taken to James Cook University Hospital where he is being treated for bruising.
“The incident was referred to the Force’s Professional Standards Department and has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, as is usual in such cases.”
Police are still hunting the driver following the incident, which happened in the early hours on Monday.
The drama unfolded when police tried to stop the car on a routine check.
But the vehicle made off from the scene, with police in pursuit.
The dramatic chase ended seven minutes later, when the car crashed into the tree in Catcote Road.
Four fire engines attended the incident around 12.20am, including two from Stranton Fire Station, and another alongside the emergency tender, both from Stockton.
A North East Ambulance spokesman said: “We received a call at 12.14am to the junction of Catcote Road and Stowmarket Close.
“We dispacted a rapid response car and a double-crew ambulance.
“One male had a suspected back injury, his injuries are not thought to have been life-threatening.”
A Cleveland Fire Brigade spokeswoman said: “Cleveland Fire Brigade were called to a road traffic collision on Catcote Road, near the Fens estate in Hartlepool, which involved a car which had left the road.
“On arrival one person was trapped in the vehicle.
“The person was cut out by the fire brigade and handed over to paramedics.
“The vehicle was also made safe.”
Crews were on the scene for about 45 minutes.
Anyone with information should contact police on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 88213.