Family, friends honour fallen police heroes
Friends and family have paid tribute to the four officers killed in the Eastern Freeway collision.
Constable Josh Prestney, Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Constable Glen Humphris and Senior Constable Kevin King were killed when they were hit from behind by a truck while standing in the emergency lane after they had pulled over the driver of the Porsche for speeding.
CONSTABLE JOSH PRESTNEY
Constable Prestney's grandmother Eliza Anderson told the Herald Sun he graduated from the academy last November and had just begun his new road policing role.
She said he was "beautiful" and "talented" and was "so proud to serve" the community.
"We were so proud of you. God bless Josh. Miss you forever," she wrote on Facebook.
Constable Prestney was doing his placement with Nunawading Highway Patrol while on his Probationary Constable Extended Training Scheme at Boroondara.
A photo shows Constable Prestney smiling while in police uniform with his grandmother at his side.
Ms Anderson told the Herald Sun: "Josh was 28. He only graduated in November. He was just on a stint before being at Kew station. He had only started on this on Tuesday."
Constable Prestney has been remembered as a much loved and respected member of his squad.
His brother First Constable Alexander Prestney presented Josh with his badge at his graduation ceremony in December last year which was a proud moment for their family.
He is survived by parents Andrew and Belinda.
Before joining the force, he completed a Bachelor in Creative Industries at the Australian College of the Arts.
In his spare time he loved to train for and compete in triathlons.
SENIOR CONSTABLE KEVIN KING
Senior Constable King was passionate about road policing but even more passionate about his Richmond Tigers.
The father-of-three had been with Victoria Police for six years and had just celebrated a year with the Nunawading Highway patrol.
Colleagues described the 50-year-old as "an older head with a lot of life experience" who always made good decisions.
He was well liked, well respected and had a great sense of humour.
Kevin is survived by his wife Sharron Mackenzie and their three children William, James and Henry.
He was remembered by relatives as a "true family man" who was "as selfless as they come".
"You were a brilliant police officer, and an even better man," nephew Jackson King posted to social media.
"I will forever cherish the memories we shared, especially going to the footy with the boys.
"You were always bubbly yet calm, and as selfless as they come.
"You were a true family man."
This morning Police and PSO recruits, instructors and staff at the Victoria Police Academy formed up on the parade ground (for a minute’s silence) to pay their respect and honour their fallen friends and colleagues who so tragically died in the line of duty yesterday evening. pic.twitter.com/DKv9P7lI7y— Victoria Police (@VictoriaPolice) April 23, 2020
Jackson King said his uncle passed away due to the "carelessness" of someone else on the road and begged for others to drive safely.
"He was killed while simply doing his job," Jackson King said.
"Road rules are in place for a reason.
"Police officers are there to protect our communities and to keep us safe, not to spoil our fun.
"Please people, drive safely and obey all road rules, because all it takes is one mistake, one careless act, and someone may lose their life, and a family is torn apart forever."
Another nephew paid tribute to the beloved "Uncle Kevin" who was a passionate Tigers supporter.
"You were such a great human and you were always flowing with positivity," nephew Lachie Fairweather posted to social media.
"It was always a good laugh to talk about the footy with you."
Mr Fairweather said his uncle recently celebrated his 50th birthday surrounded by family.
LEADING SENIOR CONSTABLE LYNETTE TAYLOR
Leading Senior Constable Taylor was stationed at the Road Policing Drug and Alcohol Section.
She had a reputation of going in to bat for others and challenging decisions she believed were unfair.
The mum-of-two had a distinguished career of more than three decades in the force and had worked in the road policing operations unit since 2011.
Ms Taylor, 60, is survived by her husband Stuart Schultz and their two sons Nathan and Alexander.
She is remembered as having a great sense of adventure, once spending a year sailing around the South Pacific on a yacht.
She and her husband, a retired police officer, were building their dream retirement home overlooking Bass Strait on the state's south east coast.
Ms Taylor has been recognised by the Chief Commissioner for her outstanding work many times and is the recipient of several prestigious honours.
They include the National Medal first clasp, the National Police Service medal and the Victoria Police Service medal fourth clasp.
CONSTABLE GLEN HUMPHRIS
NSW born Constable Humphris is being remembered as a caring and supportive colleague with a great sense of humour.
He began his policing career only last year after moving to Victoria from Newcastle with his partner Todd.
He had worked as a carpenter and a personal trainer before moving to the force.
Constable Humphris had a passion for competing in triathlons and maintained a high level of fitness but also loved exploring Melbourne's foodie scene.
In the police academy, he performed above average, narrowly missing out on the Highest Academic Achiever Award for his squad.
His squad mates said he genuinely wanted to help people, had a great sense of community and genuine empathy for both victims and offenders.
He was based at Collingwood for placement at the Road Policing Drug and Alcohol Section.
This was part of his Probationary Constable Extended Training Scheme.
Constable Humphris was today described as "one of a kind".
"Fly high Glen," one tribute on social media said.
"That smile of yours will be dearly missed.
"Gone way too soon."
POLICE FAMILY IN MOURNING: ASHTON
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the police family was in mourning.
"Their names will forever be remembered, their service honoured, and their memories celebrated," he said.
"These officers were undertaking their everyday duties in helping to keep the community safe when they were killed.
"They were members of our Road Policing Drug and Alcohol Section and Highway Patrol. "They were our colleagues, our friends, our squad mates, our family."
Dozens of floral tributes have been placed on the steps of Boroondara Police Station as a mark of respect for the four police officers who were killed in the crash.
Kew locals stopped by the police station to pay their respects with bouquets and heartfelt messages.
"No one should die at work. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and the force," a note on one bouquet read.
Another note told of how locals are thinking of the entire police community.
"Grateful for your service and so, so sorry for the loss of four of your colleagues. Our thoughts are with your community," the note read.
Several bundles of rosemary were left by the entrance of the station as a symbol of remembrance.
Locals Claire and Edward were among the mourners who came to Boroondara station to pay tribute.
"We're locals here and we wanted to come and pay our respects," Claire said.
"They could be people we know, people working in our community to protect us so we wanted to show our support.
"It's a terrible tragedy."
A member of the public handed a handwritten note to the Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton as he left Boroondara Station.
He then placed the letter along with the other tributes laid out for his late colleagues.
CITY TO TURN BLUE IN TRIBUTE
Lord Mayor Sally Capp has said the city will turn blue tonight with landmark sites including Flinders St Station and the Melbourne Town Hall to be lit.
Opposition leader Michael O'Brien said Victorian Parliament should also be lit up in blue.
"Lighting up our buildings and landmarks in blue is a way we can all show our support to all Victoria Police men and women," he said.
"We want each and every one of our police force, their friends and their families to know that we have their back."
Shadow Minister for Police, David Southwick said he was heartbroken by last night's tragedy.
"This is a small way we can all show our appreciation. Victorians want to show the world just how much we love, value and respect the very people who protect us."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison extended his "deepest condolences" to the families, friends and colleagues of the officers who were killed last night.
"This is a terrible time for these families and for the Victoria Police family," he said.
"This is just an awful tragedy, a terribly dark day for that police force."
"We stand with you as much as we possibly can."
FAMILIES WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN
Victoria's police union has vowed to rally around the families of those who lost their lives in last night's horror crash, with police stations across the state falling silent as the community comes to terms with the tragedy.
Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said no one would be forgotten as the community comes to terms with the loss.
"Police are particularly good at making sure we wrap our arms around those people," he said.
"Not just for a couple of days but for a lifetime.
"What they effectively gain is 17,400 brothers and sisters."
Mr Gatt encouraged members of the community to support family members through the non-profit Police Legacy organisation.
He said the impacts of the deaths had rippled to every corner of Victoria.
"Police stations are usually places that are quite jovial," he said.
"The corridors where you would ordinarily bounce into people with a joke and a laugh are silent.
"The mood is sombre."
Mr Gatt also condemned the release of horrific pictures of the crime scene online.
"Whoever it was you have no decency," he said.
"You should hang your head in shame because not only have you added to the hurt of those family members but the hurt of all Victorians."
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said this was a terrible time for everyone, especially for the families of the victims and Victoria Police.
"This is a terrible time, more broadly, but for these families and for the Victorian police family and for police officers all over the country - and I know their families will be feeling the same way - this is just an awful tragedy," he said.
"A terribly dark day for that police force and our thoughts, our prayers, our sympathies are there for all of them, but also our thanks to police officers serving all over the country. It is a dreadful and terrible reminder of the dangers that you face every single day."
"You step up every day, you stand between us and that danger every single day and we are deeply grateful for your service, deeply grateful for your sacrifice and to those families who are knowing nothing other than terrible grief today, we stand with you as much as we possibly can and with hop that provides at least some comfort to you and we extend also to the Victorian government our appreciation for the work they are doing to support those families."
FUNDRAISER FOR FAMILIES
An online fundraiser has been set up to support the families of the four police officers.
The fundraiser, established by senior constable Steven Pope, has so far raised more than $20,000.
He said the crash was a "brutal reminder" of the everyday risks faced by police and urged the public to dig deep.
"Whilst we mourn their loss, we grieve with their families and colleagues," wrote Sen Con Pope.
"Whilst money can never replace a lost loved one, the financial stresses can take their toll."
The fundraiser has set a goal of $2 million - $500,000 for the families of each of the officers.
- additional Shannon Deery and Tom Minear
Originally published as Family, friends honour fallen police heroes