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Vic freeway tragedy lingers a year on

·3-min read

A year after the single worst loss of life in Victoria Police history, the grief is undiminished.

Colleagues across the state observed a minute's silence at 5.36pm on Thursday to mark the first anniversary of the Eastern Freeway tragedy.

Leading Senior Constable Lynnette Taylor, 60, Senior Constable Kevin King, 50, and constables Glen Humphris, 32, and Josh Prestney, 28, were killed while on duty on the Eastern Freeway at Kew on April 22, 2020.

"We will remember. Forever in our hearts," Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said over police radio.

The truck driver responsible for their deaths was jailed last week for 22 years.

Earlier on Thursday, the chief commissioner joined families of the four officers as they laid wreaths at the police memorial wall in Kings Domain.

The fallen officers' families, friends and colleagues also paid tribute in a ceremony at Glen Waverley's Victoria Police Academy chapel.

"The grief, when we all heard of the passing of Lynette, Kevin, Josh and Glen, it still remains as strong as ever," Mr Patton said at the ceremony.

"Time, some people say, heals wounds. I'm not sure, I don't know the answer to that, I just know the grief is as strong as ever."

In emotional scenes during the memorial, family members laid wreaths under portraits of the four officers.

With their funerals restricted last year due to Victoria's first COVID-19 lockdown, the Victorian government announced a state memorial service will be held on September 29 - National Police Remembrance Day.

Acting Premier James Merlino said planning for the service was already underway with the help of the officers' families.

"Twelve months ago, four families were permanently broken," Mr Merlino said.

"I know I speak for all Victorians when I say our hearts are with them now, just as they were then."

Acting Police Minister Danny Pearson said the memorial would be a fitting tribute to the officers.

Opposition Leader Michael O'Brien also paid homage, saying Victoria had thrown its collective arms around the officers' families and the entire force.

Other tributes for the Eastern Freeway victims included police station national flags flying at half-mast and state landmarks such as Flinders Street Station lighting up in blue on Thursday evening.

Todd Robinson, the partner of Glen Humphris, said learning of his death was one of the most gut-wrenching experiences of his life.

"Today marks 12 months since I wished Glen a great day and hugged him goodbye as I left for work, not knowing that would be the last time we would ever see each other," Mr Robinson said.

"Each and every day, police officers put their lives on the line for our community, and it is the worst fear of every partner and family member to receive that knock on the door."

Andrew, Belinda and Alex Prestney said their world fell apart on April 22 last year, with the loss of their son and brother leaving "scars that will never completely heal".

"It has now been one year, but the memory of how that night unfolded is as clear and as painful as if it happened yesterday," the family wrote.

"As hard it was to lose Josh, harder still has been learning to live without him. We will never get used to this, get over this or move on from this."