Four police officers have been tragically killed after a horror crash sparked chaos and blocked all lanes of a busy Melbourne freeway on Wednesday night.
Dozens of emergency crews remain at the scene of the collision on the Eastern Freeway near Burke Road in the inner-city suburb of Kew.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton confirmed a female senior constable and three male officers were killed after a refrigeration truck ploughed into two police cars and a black Porsche parked in the breakdown lane.
It is the largest loss of officers’ lives in one incident in the history of Victoria Police.
Police had earlier pulled over the male Porsche driver who was allegedly driving at excessive speed and fled the scene on foot following the crash.
‘I strongly suggest that he get himself down to the nearest police station,’ Chief Commissioner Ashton told reporters on Wednesday night.
The truck driver has been taken to hospital under police guard with non life-threatening injuries after he suffered a medical episode.
‘We don’t know at this stage what has caused him to drive that truck into our police members,’ Commissioner Ashton said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has offered his condolences.
‘Awful, heart-breaking news that four police officers have been killed while on duty in Melbourne tonight. My deepest sympathies go out to their families, fellow officers and friends at this terrible time,’ he tweeted.
Commissioner Ashton said it was a very tragic night for police.
The four officers will sadly unlikely be honoured in a traditional large scale police funeral due to coronavirus restrictions.
Funerals currently have a capacity of 10 attendees.
‘If we’re still in restrictions, we won’t be able to have those large scale remembrance ceremonies we traditionally have to honour our police officers,’ Commissioner Ashton said.
‘If we’re still in restrictions, we won’t be able to have those large scale remembrance ceremonies we traditionally have to honour our police officers’.
Homicide and major collision officers remain at the scene, where all lanes are currently blocked.
Footage from the horrific scene shows debris scattered along the freeway.
Police Association Victoria has expressed its sadness over the tragic incident.
‘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,’ police union secretary Wayne Gatt said in a statement.
‘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.
One witness told the Herald Sun: ‘It was carnage.’
‘There were civilians trying to run around and help, it was horrible.
Witnesses said the truck driver was pulled out of his cabin at the scene by Good Samaritans and assisted police with their inquiries before he was taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
All lanes of the Eastern Freeway are currently closed between Bulleen Road and the Chandler Highway.
Vic Traffic advises motorists to exit as early as possible using Doncaster or Bulleen Roads through Kew and rejoin the Eastern Freeway via the Chandler Highway.
Traffic is banked up for more than a kilometre.
Outbound traffic is heavily delayed through the area, so motorists should allow extra time,’ a Vic Traffic alert stated.
It’s currently not known when the scene will be cleared and lanes reopened.
‘The road will reopen when investigations are complete and it’s safe to do so,’ the traffic alert added.
Police urge anyone who witnessed or has information in relation to the crash to contact Crime Stoppers.