Industry mourns police killed in truck crash


National reaction swift after four Victoria Police officers struck by semi-trailer on Eastern Freeway

Industry mourns police killed in truck crash
Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton

 

The truck-car crash in Melbourne that claimed the lives of four officers has been reported as the deadliest single incident involving Victoria Police in the state’s history.

The collision occurred inbound on the Eastern Freeway near Chandler Highway just after 5.30pm yesterday.

The exact circumstances surrounding the collision are still being probed by detectives from the Major Collision Investigation Unit.

Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton explains that two officers intercepted a speeding Porsche and upon a positive drug test were going to impound the vehicle, requesting two more officers for assistance.

A refrigerated truck for a Melbourne commercial poultry company drove into the stopped vehicles, killing the four officers.

The 41-year-old Porsche driver fled the scene but later made contact with police.

Ashton says he has an extensive criminal history.

The truck driver, believed to be uninjured but suffering a ‘medical episode’ involving ‘blacking out’, was taken to hospital under police guard awaiting blood tests.

Ashon notes he "doesn’t have an extensive criminal history" and was not pulled over earlier in the day, as per some reports.

"The driver of the truck has for medical reasons been taken to hospital for medical tests," Ashton says.

"It's not believed he has suffered injury in the accident but has had some sort of medical episode at the scene and has been taken to hospital for medical treatment.

"We intend him to be there under police guard for some time."

Ashton noted it was the biggest loss of life involving the state’s police force in a single incident.

Federal transport minister Michael McCormack and assistant freight and road safety minister Scott Buchholz both issued short statements on social media after the incident.

"Heartfelt condolences to the families and colleagues of the four Victoria Police officers killed on the Eastern Freeway in Melbourne tonight," McCormack says.

"This is a tragedy that will be felt across the nation.

Buchholz adds: "This is awful. No words to describe the loss.

"My thoughts go to the loved ones and colleagues of those officers we lost today, as they served to protect the community.

"I really hope the truck driver is OK and recovering.

"Please, please take care on the roads."

The Victorian Transport Association (VTA) CEO Peter Anderson says the association was "distraught" to learn of the loss.

"The loss of any life on our roads is tragic, but to lose four Victoria Police officers serving their community in a single accident is devastating," he says.

"Our hearts go out to their family and friends, and to the broader family of police and emergency services workers.

"I know every member of our Association and the Victorian transport industry will be as saddened as we are about this tragic incident.

"On behalf of the industry we extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of the officers and the entire Victoria Police force at this difficult time, and offer any assistance and support we can provide."

The Transport Workers Union also offered its condolences online.

"Very sad, tragic news. Thoughts are with the family of those killed."

The truck involved carries Connect Logistics livery but the relationship between that Sydney company and the poultry company is unclear. ATN was unable to get through by phone to the transport firm.

Any road users with dashcam footage of the incident have been asked to contact police or Crimestoppers.

More to come.

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