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Pursuit investigated after crash death
The car is towed away after the fatal crash. Picture: Keith Delaporte

Update, 1pm: A man has died and another is in a critical condition after the car which they were travelling in hit a pole in Northam overnight.

The car was the subject of a police pursuit at some point before the crash and Major Crash officers and police internal affairs are investigating a whether the car was being actively pursued by police when it crashed.

In a statement today, police said officers attempted to stop the white Holden Commodore a short time before the crash but the driver failed to stop.

The car the man was travelling in ploughed into a power pole on Stirling Street at about 7.45pm.

The victim was one of two passengers in the car and is believed to be a 20-year-old man. The driver is in Royal Perth Hospital in a critical condition.

The force of the vehicle hitting the power pole caused it to break into three pieces and spear into the verandah of a home 25m away from the impact. CDs and debris from the car were strewn across the street.

Family members last night visited the street but were stopped by police before the crash site.

Angry and upset family members today returned to the scene of the crash to lay flowers.

Several metropolitan police vehicles were this morning sent to Northam as back up after reports community members had turned up at the crash scene.

Residents reported hearing sirens from 4pm or 5pm last night from on and off police chases.

Stirling Street resident Keith Delaporte reported hearing two loud bangs, one as the car hit a sump and became airborne at the intersection of Forrest and Stirling streets and a second as the car slammed into the power pole.

“The left-hand front passenger door took the full brunt of the hit,” he said.

Mr Delaporte said when he first saw the crash he did not think anyone could have survived. But he said he saw one person get out of the vehicle.

Homeowner Helen O'Neill points out where the car came to rest after taking out a power pole that hit her verandah 25m away from impact. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

“The police held a torch on him because there was power wires all over the road and they couldn’t get near the car,” Mr Delaporte said.

“They just said to him ‘stay there, don’t move’ because of the power lines.”

The front of Helen O’Neill’s home was damaged when the car crashed into the front gates of the home and a piece of the power pole smashed into a brick wall 25m from where the power pole had previously stood.

“I heard the car screaming around the streets, going fast, and the police sirens going, it was shocking,” she said.

“Then bang, the power pole got hit, there were sparks everywhere , it was like Australia Day going off.”

Ms O’Neill said police worked through the night to clear the crash.

The impact of the crash would have a ripple effect throughout the Northam community, according to the town's shire president Steven Pollard.

“It’s a relatively small community, there’s only 6500 people or so in Northam, a lot of people are known by everybody,” he said.

Mr Pollard urged anyone flagged by police to pull over rather than risk their lives trying to escape.

Family members pay tribute to the crash victim in Northam. Picture: Sharon Smith/The West Australian

“As soon as the lights go on and the sirens go on just pull over and whatever happens, happens,” Mr Pollard said.

“It’s not worth losing your life over to try and outrun police.”

WA Police Union President George Tilbury said today the fatal crash has again highlighted the importance of emergency driving legislation.

"The Northam death has reiterated the significance of passing this very important piece of legislation, which, I believe, will act as a strong deterrent to anyone who fails to stop for police," he said.

"The serious penalties for evading police may have made the driver think twice before failing to stop in this instance."

Last week, Police Minister Liza Harvey revealed new police pursuit legislation.

The legislation includes some protection from criminal prosecution for police involved in high-speed chases and mandatory jail for offenders who kill or injure others during pursuits, in a bid to stop the dangerous chases.

Anyone who may have seen the car prior to the incident is asked to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

The car is towed away after the crash. Picture: Keith Delaporte