POLICE are investigating if 16-year-old Jack Patterson answered his mobile phone seconds before he crashed his car into a tree, killing himself and injuring his girlfriend and friend.
Police say officers tried to stop the teen’s red Nissan Pulsar around 5.30pm on Altone Road but he drove away, sparking a chase.
He sideswiped another vehicle as police aborted the pursuit before officers again engaged in a chase on Roe Highway.
Stingers were deployed on Great Eastern Highway before the chase was again aborted.
The Pulsar crashed into a tree on the Great Eastern Highway in Hovea a short time later, killing Jack at the scene.
Two dogs in the car at the time also died in the crash.
Jack’s friend Zandie said the teen wasn’t a bad person, he just panicked.
“People think ‘he was in a chase, he was an idiot’ or whatever,” he said.
“But he’s just panicked, he’s freaked out.
“He’s not a bad person, he’s a great bloke.”
It remains unclear exactly how fast Jack was travelling when he lost control and hit the tree.
His 18-year-old girlfriend Jade was airlifted to Royal Perth Hospital while his 16-year-old friend James was trapped inside the crash wreckage for more than two hours.
Police say it’s remarkable Jade suffered only a broken arm while James sustained a broken leg in the fatal crash.
While he didn’t have his licence, friends say Jack had recently bought the Pulsar for his girlfriend who was about to get her licence.
“It probably would have been a fine and a suspension but he’s obviously panicked and taken off,” Zandie said.
“If he’d stopped, maybe he’d still be here.”
Internal affairs is now investigating the death, given police were chasing the car minutes before it crashed.
Jack’s death has once again sparked debate over whether or not police should engage in high-speed pursuits.
Nearby residents say they heard the police sirens in the distance followed by a loud “crunch” when the car slammed into a tree on the side of the highway.
One couple ran up to the crash scene with a fire extinguisher to see if they could help but found the car wrapped around the tree with some of those inside trapped.
Tyre marks on the road stretch more than 100m, starting on the gravel shoulder on the inside lane and continuing across the bitumen and off onto the gravel verge on the other side.