Phoenix, Arizona
Phoenix, Arizona, where the incident took place

Fox News has apologised for accidentally broadcasting a live suicide that followed a high-speed car chase in Phoenix, Arizona.

The chase was followed and broadcast live by the US network's helicopters. Shepard Smith, who was anchoring the daytime show, apologised to viewers for not cutting away in time.

"We really messed up," said Smith.

"And we're all very sorry. That didn't belong on TV. That won't happen again on my watch, and I'm sorry."

After being pursued by police for dozens of miles, the driver abandoned his car on a dirt road. "Looks like he's a little disoriented or something," said Smith as the man began running. Having reached a grassy area, the man pulled a gun from his right pocket and shot himself in the head.

Though Smith shouted, "Get off, get off, get off, get off it" to his show's technicians, the network control room failed to cut away in time, showing viewers the man falling face down on the grass.

"When the guy pulled over and got out of the vehicle, we went on delay. So that's why I didn't talk for about 10 seconds. We created a five-second delay, as if you were to bleep back your DVR five seconds. That's what we did with the picture we were showing you, so we would see in the studio what was happening five seconds before you did, so that if anything went horribly wrong, we'd be able to cut away from it without subjecting you to it."

The chase began shortly after 11:00 local time (18:00 GMT) on 28 September, when police were informed of a car-jacking outside a restaurant in Phoenix.

Police soon spotted the car and gave chase along Interstate Highway 10. Though the driver fired several shots at the police, no officers were hurt.

"He got out of the car and shot himself. Efforts to revive him were not successful and he was dead at the scene. We don't have an ID yet," said police spokesman Sgt Tommy Thompson.