Flags are flying half-mast at police stations across Victoria as the state mourns the anniversary of the traumatic Eastern Freeway crash that claimed the lives of four officers.
Truck driver Mohinder Singh was last week jailed for 22 years over the crash, which killed Constables Glen Humphris and Joshua Prestney, Senior Constable Kevin King and Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor.
It was the greatest loss of life in a single incident in Victoria Police’s history.
Local services and vigils will be held throughout the state on Thursday, with a message broadcast through police radios requesting a minute’s silence at 5.36pm, when the crash occurred.
“Today we come together to remember our fallen colleagues who were killed while carrying out their duties on this day last year,” Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said.
“We know that this date, and the days and weeks surrounding it, will be a particularly difficult time for many.
“The deaths of our colleagues struck at the very core of Victoria Police and brought home the sobering reality of the inherent dangers that come with police work.
“Today we remember the lives of Lynette, Kevin, Josh and Glenn, who gave their lives while protecting others. We think of their families as we mourn alongside them.”
Landmarks across the state will be lit up in blue on Thursday, the same collective display used to grieve the loss last year amid coronavirus restrictions.
Family speaks of scars ‘that will never completely heal’
In a statement released on the eve of the anniversary, the family of Constable Prestney said their loss was “as painful as if it happened yesterday”.
“As hard it was to lose Josh, harder still has been learning to live without him,” the family said.
“We will never get used to this, get over this or move on from this.
“If we are lucky, time may soften the edges of our grief but the loss of our son and brother has left scars that will never completely heal.”
Constable Humphris’s partner, Todd Robinson, said despite the “gut-wrenching” loss, he wanted to remember his partner as the smiling, beautiful man who touched many people over his life.
“I want these stories and memories of joy and optimism to be forever remembered,” Mr Robinson said.
Police Minister Danny Pearson said a full state memorial service was planned for the officers in September.