Police had intercepted a speeding black Porsche on the Eastern Freeway when they were hit from behind by a large, white refrigerated truck. Two male constables, including Con Prestney, and two senior constables, a male and female, were hit and killed.
Mr Prestney’s grandmother, Eliza Anderson, told the Herald Sun he had just begun his new road policing role after graduating from the police academy in 2019.
She said he was “just on a stint before being at Kew station” and had only started on Tuesday.
Ms Anderson has shared images on social media of her standing next to the 28-year-old, describing herself as a “proud Nan”.
“You were so proud to serve, and we were so proud of you,” she wrote on Facebook.
Others have paid tribute to the young officer.
“Rest in peace mate,” one friend said on Instagram.
Another man wrote: “Everyone deserves to come home after work. RIP to a dear friend. You were taken from us way too soon.”
According to his social media profiles, Con Prestney was a passionate triathlete, following in the footsteps of his parents, and a talented musician.
The collision occurred near Chandler Highway just after 5.30pm on Wednesday, police said.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said it was the largest single loss of police lives in the history of the state’s force.
“We’re still in the process of notifying a couple of family members that are interstate and therefore I can’t give you their names immediately,” he told reporters this morning.
“We’re preparing some profiles on those officers with their career history and detailing their service to the community this morning … so that more can be known about the great service of these four officers to our community.”
Two of the officers were with the Road Policing Drug and Alcohol Section, who decided to impound the Porsche, and the other two responding officers were with Highway Patrol.
Mr Ashton said all four were out of their vehicles when they were struck.
“They were dealing with this person, dealing with the impound situation and have obviously had next to no warning that the truck has arrived from where it did,” he said.
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
RELATED: ‘Scary’ footage of Porsche before crash
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews spoke on Thursday about the “terrible incident” at Kew.
“Every single member of Victoria Police put themselves in harm’s way every hour of every day in order to keep the rest of us safe,” he said.
“Their commitment to others, their professionalism, their courage is without question.
“Yesterday, we had a tragic reminder of the risks, the dangers and the tragedy that that work can involve.
“On behalf of every single Victorian, I send the best wishes, the thoughts and prayers of all of us to the families of the four members of Victoria Police who died keeping the rest of us safe.”