Driver who allegedly fled scene of Melbourne crash that killed four police officers to face court

Australian police and policing

Richard Pusey is facing 10 charges, including speeding, reckless conduct and drug possession

Richard Pusey, who allegedly fled the scene of a truck crash on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway which killed four police officers, is taken away from his Fitzroy property by police.Photograph: Michael Dodge/EPA

A driver who allegedly fled a crash site where four police officers were killed is due to face a Melbourne court charged with a raft of offences. Richard Pusey, a 41-year-old Fitzroy man, is expected to appear in the Melbourne magistrates court on Friday to face 10 charges, including speeding, reckless conduct and drug possession. Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and Constables Glen Humphris and Josh Prestney lost their lives on Wednesday evening as they were dealing with the Porsche driver on the Eastern Freeway in Kew.

A refrigerated truck veered to the left and hit them at 100km/h as they stood in the emergency lane. Victorian police commissioner, Graham Ashton alleged the driver of the Porsche, later identified as Pusey, posted “graphic” photographs to social media of the scene before he fled on foot. After the photos were posted to a community Facebook group they were seen by a fellow officer, who was said to be “distraught” after seeing the images of her colleagues.

Ashton has urged the public not to share the photographs. After making contact with police overnight Pusey was arrested on Thursday morning. Pusey was charged with driving at a dangerous speed, reckless conduct endangering life, failing to remain after a drug test, failing to render his assistance, failing to exchange his details, possessing a drug of dependence, destruction of evidence and three counts of committing indictable offence while on bail.

It was still unclear on Friday exactly how the crash happened. Ashton said two officers intercepted a Porsche 911 that was reportedly travelling at 140km/h just before 5pm on Wednesday afternoon. The two officers drug-tested the 41-year-old male driver, identified as Richard Pusey.

After he allegedly returned a positive result, the officers decided to impound the car, Ashton said. Shortly after the two highway patrol officers were called to assist at the scene, a large refrigerated truck drove into the four officers. “It is still quite early in the investigation to describe exactly the movements of that vehicle,” Ashton said.

“The truck itself appears to have moved from one of the traffic lanes in the freeway into the emergency lane and has travelled a short distance in the emergency lane at around about 100km/h and slammed into the rear of the highway patrol vehicle.” The truck driver had a medical episode and is in hospital under police guard, and was still not fit to be questioned. Police raided the truck driver’s Cranbourne home on Wednesday night and are yet to reveal what they found.

Sen Const Taylor, 60, had been with the force for 31 years and joined the road policing drug and alcohol section in 2011, while both Constables Humphris and Prestney had only recently graduated from the academy. Survived by her husband and two sons, Sen Const Taylor had also recently been the primary carer for her sister after she experienced a stroke. At 50, Sen Const King was relatively new to the force, joining six years ago and working at several Melbourne stations before transferring to the Nunawading Highway Patrol in 2018.

His cousin, a man named Trevor told Melbourne’s 3AW on Thursday morning that King left behind a wife and children. “I sat down and watched the news and thought: ‘My cousin runs up and down there’ … Just a split second and everyone’s life changes,” he said.

“I feel sorry for the good samaritans that were there, that will be with them forever.” “The 50-year-old father of three was well-liked, well respected and well regarded by his colleagues. He had a great sense of humour, loved coming to work, and he loved what he did,” Victoria police said in his obituary.

After working as an apprentice carpenter and personal trainer, Const Humphris joined the force after moving to Melbourne from Newcastle. “Glen is remembered as being very level-headed, caring and supportive with a great sense of humour and had the ability to make light of any situation to calm people,” read his obituary. He is survived by his partner of four years, Todd.

Const Prestney, 28, graduated from the academy in December, with his brother – a fellow officer – presenting him with his badge. “Josh was a much loved and respected member of his squad…In his spare time Josh enjoyed keeping fit and trained for and competed in triathlons.” The Victoria Police In Memorium Facebook page was flooded with posts on Thursday evening paying respects to the officers, including from past and current police.

Flags were also flying at half-mast and landmarks lit up in blue across Victoria on Thursday in honour of the officers.


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