Police are defending their search of a car crash scene, where a severely injured passenger was not found.
Jordan Bowler, 17, lay in a drain with head injuries for nine hours after he was flung 28 metres from a car when it crashed into a tree near Palmerston North, early on Sunday.
His family found him in the morning.
Acting Inspector Brent Calkin says a patrol searched with torches for more than 30 minutes, but failed to spot him.
He says police believed there were only two people were in the car, not three and the other passengers were uncooperative.
He says speed may have been a factor in the crash.