Traffic has stopped after a horrific crash between a truck and car on the Eastern Fwy. Picture: Supplied
Traffic has stopped after a horrific crash between a truck and car on the Eastern Fwy. Picture: Supplied

Porsche driver arrested after horror Eastern Fwy crash

A Porsche driver, who allegedly fled the scene of a horrific Eastern Freeway crash that killed four police officers last night, has been arrested.

Two male constables and two senior constables - a male and female - were hit from behind by a refrigerated truck while standing in the emergency lane after they had pulled over the driver of a Porsche with registration LLC001 for speeding.

It is the single deadliest incident in Victoria Police's history, eclipsing Ned Kelly's killing of three officers in 1878.

One police officer killed in the tragedy has been identified as constable Josh Prestney, with his grandmother saying her "beautiful" grandson was just days into a new policing role.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the 41-year-old Porsche driver had since made contact with police and was due to appear at a police station this morning.

A mangled highway patrol car is towed from the scene. Picture: AAP Image/Scott Barbour
A mangled highway patrol car is towed from the scene. Picture: AAP Image/Scott Barbour

In a shocking twist, Mr Ashton said the man appeared to have taken photographs of the crash before he fled the scene, expressing his disgust that the images were shared with friends on social media.

Police have requested Facebook remove the "graphic" photos this morning.

"To flee the scene of an accident is an indictable offence," Mr Ashton said.

"As chief commissioner, to have four officers killed last night with someone who has clearly been driving erratically on the freeway with an extensive criminal history it disgusts me.

"Today when I'm spending time with the family members of those deceased officers I can tell you it will absolutely disgust them."

Mr Ashton said "to leave the scene is a very, very low act", made worse by the sharing of the graphic photos.

"If I wasn't wearing the uniform of Chief Commissioner, I would give you far more colourful language," he said.

The freeway remains closed on Thursday morning. Picture: David Crosling
The freeway remains closed on Thursday morning. Picture: David Crosling

Mr Ashton revealed further details this morning and alleged the black Porsche 911 was speeding at about 140kmh on the Eastern Fwy when it was intercepted and pulled over into the emergency lane around 5.40pm.

He said an oral fluid test of the driver returned a positive test for drugs, prompting two officers to call for support.

"Accordingly, the officers have called from support to do that," he said.

Mr Ashton said that the truck was travelling about 100kmh when it veered into the emergency lane.

Police raided the truck driver's Cranbourne home last night, and he remains under police guard in hospital.

Mr Ashton said the man suffered a "medical episode", "which seemed to involve him blacking out".

Police will interview the driver of the semi-trailer refrigerated truck as soon as they were able.

Emergency services began towing the cars on Thursday morning. Picture: David Crosling
Emergency services began towing the cars on Thursday morning. Picture: David Crosling

He said there was nothing to indicate that the truck driver had been pulled over by police immediately before the crash, and that he doesn't have "any sort of extensive criminal history".

"After the collision, the impact of that has caused him to black out," he said.

"An officer accompanied him to the hospital and he is still under police guard at the moment.

"We did make sure that we took a blood sample from him at the hospital."

Mr Ashton said that police had recovered body-worn camera footage from the officers killed, and would use footage from freeway cameras that typically monitor traffic flow.

"We will definitely be able to piece together 99.9 per cent of this," he said. "We have got a lot of information to go through in the next few days."

Trevor, a cousin of one of the officers, said he was lost for words, revealing his cousin left behind a wife and children, and had been in the force for eight years.

"I sat down and watched the news and thought: 'My cousin runs up and down there'," he told 3AW.

"Just a split second and everyone's life changes."

SHOCKING FOOTAGE OF SPEEDING PORSCHE

It comes as footage emerged of a Porsche speeding on the freeway last month.

Motorist James Tsagros told the Herald Sun he saw a Porsche "fly past" in a 100kmh section of Melbourne's Eastern Freeway on March 21 about 5.10pm.

Mr Tsagros, who captured the encounter on dashcam, reported it to police the next day.

"This guy flew past,'' he said. "It was just a flash.

"I have never in the 30-something years I have been driving experienced anyone drive past me doing that speed. It was actually scary."

Mr Tsagros described the driver's erratic behaviour, which was sighted about 2km inbound from the Hoddle St exit.

"I was expecting further down to see some type of collision,'' Mr Tsagros said.

"He was just weaving in and out of cars. He just disappeared and he was nowhere to be seen."

Asked about the footage, Mr Ashton said he was unable to confirm that it was the same vehicle.

Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton at the scene. Picture: Mark Stewart
Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton at the scene. Picture: Mark Stewart

But he said investigators were aware of the footage and investigating.

"We are still looking at that footage but it does appear to be a very similar vehicle," he said.

"The investigators have got that footage. Just to my eye, it (the car) looks pretty similar."

Approximately seven passers-by, including an off-duty doctor and off-duty paramedic, were among the first on the scene to render help.

An eyewitness who saw the aftermath of the crash said it was a "horrific" scene.

"It was carnage," the eyewitness said.

Witnesses who saw the crash from the other side of the freeway said it was a "horrible" scene.

"I've never seen anything that bad," an eyewitness said. "People were surrounding the Porsche trying to help. It made you feel sick in your stomach.

"We saw ten or more cop cars racing through right after it happened, they going so quickly trying to get there.

"Then when they got there it was frantic, they were running out so fast to try and help at the scene."

First responders desperately tried to save police officers in the immediate aftermath of the crash.
First responders desperately tried to save police officers in the immediate aftermath of the crash.

Road chaos continues this morning, with city-bound lanes closed at Bulleen Rd and traffic diverted towards Doncaster Rd through Balwyn North.

A multi vehicle car accident involving a truck and Victoria Police on the Eastern Freeway between Chandler Hwy and Burke Road. Picture: Mark Stewart
A multi vehicle car accident involving a truck and Victoria Police on the Eastern Freeway between Chandler Hwy and Burke Road. Picture: Mark Stewart

Outbound traffic is exiting at the Chandler Highway and should detour through Alphington and Ivanhoe to the north, or through Kew to the south.

But it should reopen in the next few hours as police work to clear the scene.

Investigators worked through the night to try and determine the circumstances surrounding the incident.

Around 20 members of police and emergency services remain at the scene this morning.

Evidence has been gathered from the area around the truck, which is being lifted off the black Porsche by a crane.

About six police officers on off-road bikes are scanning the area around the scene as the driver of the black Porsche involved in the crash remains at large.

Two police helicopters are also circling the area, as specialist police units carried out a number of skid tests early this morning along the Eastern Freeway.

 

EERIE, QUIET SCENES AS FORCE MOURNS

Several floral tributes and hand written cards have been left outside Boroondara Police Station, just over a kilometre from the scene of the crash.

The Australian flag outside the station is also flying at half mast as a mark of respect.

Mr Ashton said members of Victoria Police would be thinking of the tragedy as they went about their day.

"The whole force is reeling this morning," he said. "It is a timely reminder of how tragic police work can be at times.

"Members will be very concerned about traffic stops and no doubt will be looking over their shoulders."

"The job is risky enough without having to have these sort of accidents occur."

Mr Ashton said yesterday was a "tragic night" for Victoria Police.

He did not detail ages of the deceased but said one of the officers had joined the force "very recently".

"The others were a little more seasoned and experienced," Mr Ashton said.

"As police commissioner, I'm deeply saddened by the events of tonight. It's a tragic night for Victoria Police.

"All the officers down here, I can tell you there's an eerie quiet down there that sometimes you don't see at crime scenes. Everyone down there is feeling it at the moment.

Police have blocked off the Eastern Fwy after a horror crash. Picture: Josh Fagan
Police have blocked off the Eastern Fwy after a horror crash. Picture: Josh Fagan

"Everyone understands what a tragedy this is for the families of those officers and for the whole force. They're all feeling that deeply."

Police Association Victoria secretary Wayne Gatt said: "The Police Association Victoria is shocked and immensely saddened by the deaths of four of our dedicated members, who were killed while protecting the community on the Eastern Freeway this afternoon.

"We are providing immediate and ongoing support to the colleagues and families of those members.

"This is a brutally sad reminder of the danger police face in the course of their service, every minute of every shift.

"We mourn their loss, we grieve with their families and colleagues and we will never forget them."

He said the deaths would "shock police in stations across Victoria".

"These police officers were doing something that we do 10 times, 20 times, 30 times a shift - intercepting a motor vehicle on the side of the road.

"This is the bread and butter of policing," he told reporters.

"This isn't stuff that you go to do and expect to be killed doing. But each and every time a police officer does that for the next little while, they'll have this in the back of their minds, there's no doubt."

A multi vehicle car accident involving a truck and Victoria Police on the Eastern Freeway between Chandler Hwy and Burke Road. Picture: Mark Stewart
A multi vehicle car accident involving a truck and Victoria Police on the Eastern Freeway between Chandler Hwy and Burke Road. Picture: Mark Stewart

Police Minister Lisa Neville suggested that Victorians wave and thank any police officer they see today, or post an online message of thanks.

She said it was going to be "very difficult weeks ahead" for them.

"I can't underestimate on what a significant impact this will have not only on the families but on all Victoria Police members," she said.

"This touches everyone - it touches the whole community, it touches all those emergency services … it will leave a hole."

Mr Ashton thanked the community for their outpouring of support and tribute, but asked that people do not drop flowers at the scene.

He said the force was considering a way that people could pay tribute to the officers, potentially online.

"We don't want to put anyone else's health at risk by a consequence of this," he said.

"The whole force is reeling this morning from what has occurred last night."

 

 

 

TRIBUTES FOR HEROES KILLED IN LINE OF DUTY

Melbourne Town Hall will tonight be lit up blue in honour of the four fallen police officers.

Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the City of Melbourne was "devastated" by the tragedy and sent her condolences to colleagues and loved ones of the victims.

 

"We respect, admire and appreciate the members of Victoria Police and all the work they do each day to keep our community safe," she said.

"The flags at Melbourne Town Hall are at a half-mast today. From sunset tonight, we will light up Melbourne Town Hall in blue as a sign of our respect for Victoria Police members and our sadness at this tragic loss."

Premier Daniel Andrews last night described the officers as heroes.

"Tonight, four police officers lost their lives in the line of duty. And tonight, somewhere in our city, four families' hearts are breaking. Our hearts are breaking with them," he said.

"We grieve alongside them - just as we grieve with every member of Victoria Police and every member of our emergency services family.

"In the coming days, formal investigations will tell us why - how - this could possibly have happened.

"But one thing is already clear: Though we may not yet know their names, we will always call them heroes."

Opposition leader Michael O'Brien, in a joint statement with Shadow Minister for Police, David Southwick, described the incident as an "unimaginable tragedy".

"This unimaginable tragedy is a stark reminder of the grave risks the members of Victoria Police face every day," he said.

Traffic has stopped after a horrific crash between a truck and car on the Eastern Fwy. Picture: Supplied
Traffic has stopped after a horrific crash between a truck and car on the Eastern Fwy. Picture: Supplied

"Our thoughts, our prayers and our deepest sympathies are with the officers' families, friends and colleagues."

The state's police minister said that information is still being collected on the tragedy.

"We have seen tonight on the Eastern Freeway an unimaginable tragedy" Lisa Neville said in a statement.

"I have been briefed on the incident tonight by Victoria Police and details are still coming to hand.

"We know that four police officers have been killed in the line of duty.

"Four police officers killed while doing their job and keeping us all safe.

"I am thinking of the entire Victoria Police family who are going through a deeply distressing time right now.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and loved ones of those who have been taken from us far too soon.

"Policing is difficult and challenging work and we are reminded yet again of the bravery of all of our police officers in keeping Victorians safe.

 

 

"The Victorian government grieves with you and we are thinking of you."

The scene of the crash on the Eastern Freeway between Chandler Hwy and Burke Rd. Picture: Mark Stewart
The scene of the crash on the Eastern Freeway between Chandler Hwy and Burke Rd. Picture: Mark Stewart

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the deaths as heartbreaking.

"Awful, heartbreaking news that four police officers have been killed while on duty in Melbourne tonight," Mr Morrison tweeted.

"My deepest sympathies go out to their families, fellow officers and friends at this terrible time."

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese echoed the Prime Minister's sentiments.

"Heartbreaking news out of Victoria. These officers were killed while doing their jobs - a terrible reminder of the risks taken by police and emergency workers every single day," he tweeted.

"My deepest condolences to their families, friends and everyone at Victoria Police."

Bayswater MP and former police officer, Jackson Taylor, described the news as "devastating".

"My thoughts and love go out to the families of those involved, to the entire Victoria Police and emergency services family," he tweeted.

Bentleigh MP Nick Staikos added: "Such devastation unfolding on the Eastern Freeway tonight. Grieving for our police. Another reminder that our emergency services workers put everything on the line to serve the community."

- With Jon Kaila, Brianna Travers and Josh Fagan

 

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Originally published as Porsche driver arrested after horror Eastern Fwy crash

A crane is used to lift the truck off the Porsche. Picture: David Crosling
A crane is used to lift the truck off the Porsche. Picture: David Crosling
Police on off-road bikes scour the area for clues. Picture: David Crosling
Police on off-road bikes scour the area for clues. Picture: David Crosling
A multi vehicle car accident involving a truck and Victoria Police on the Eastern Freeway between Chandler Hwy and Burke Road. Picture: Mark Stewart
A multi vehicle car accident involving a truck and Victoria Police on the Eastern Freeway between Chandler Hwy and Burke Road. Picture: Mark Stewart

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