Constable Josh Prestney, 28, died alongside Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and Constable Glen Humphris when they were hit by a large refrigerated truck on the Eastern Freeway on Wednesday night.
The officers were hit from behind after intercepting a speeding black Porsche.
In a statement released on Saturday, Constable Prestney’s parents, Andrew and Belinda, said they were filled with pain.
“The thought of never hearing his guitar playing throughout the house, never sharing our sporting adventures together again, never going to the football with him again, never laughing over silly family jokes with him again breaks our hearts and fills us with a pain that has taken our breath away,” they wrote.
Constable Prestney joined Victoria Police in May 2019 and had only just begun his new road policing role.
He had found “his calling” with the force after seeing how much his younger brother, Alex, loved his job, his parents said.
“The proudest moment of our lives was when Alex presented Josh with his badge at the graduation ceremony in December last year,” they recalled.
“We cannot fathom the circumstances that have led us to this point. Josh and Alex were only 18 months apart in age and grew up doing everything together. Alex has lost his best friend, big brother and offsider.”
Constable Prestney was described by his family as a “creative, insightful, loving and genuine soul” who was blessed with many talents.
He was an impressive guitarist who loved hard rock and metal, a dedicated triathlete who had competed in two full Ironman events, and an avid sports fan.
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“Josh was a passionate Collingwood supporter who had many animated discussions about players and the statistics of the game with his dad Andrew and brother Alex. He cried all the way home after the 2002 Grand Final loss, as a 10-year-old,” his parents said.
“He was the same way with basketball, playing as a junior and becoming an avid Melbourne United and LA Lakers fan.”
Before joining Victoria Police, Constable Prestney studied a Bachelor of Creative Industries Management and worked for a bike store.
“Josh had a love of bikes and the mechanics of what made them work. Everyone he worked with appreciated his quiet, patient and dedicated approach,” his parents said.
He also had a partner, Stacey, with whom he had made plans for the future. “They were perfect for one another … our heart bleeds for her,” they said.
Victoria Police described Constable Prestney as a “much loved and respected” member of his squad.
His family thanked the force for their unwavering and loving support as well as the local community, and said their hearts went out to the families of the other officers who tragically lost their lives.
“We love you Josh, forever and always,” they said.
All four officers will be farewelled separately, however there are future plans for a large memorial with “full police honours”.