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Young police officer killed on duty farewelled

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Victoria has farewelled a recently graduated young police officer killed on duty after a truck crashed into him on Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway.

Victoria has farewelled the youngest police officer killed on duty after a truck crashed into him and his three colleagues on Melbourne's Eastern Freeway.

A private funeral to honour Constable Joshua Prestney was held at 10am today at the officer's former school, Xavier College in Kew.

A minute's silence was also carried out with police officers across the state pausing to remember the fallen officer. A wreath laying ceremony at the Airlie Conference Centre later followed.

READ MORE: Tributes mourn fallen police officers who died in Eastern Freeway crash

The 28-year-old triathlon enthusiast is survived by his parents Andrew and Belinda and his brother First Constable Alexander Prestney.

It was only his second day on the job when the freeway tragedy occurred on April 22.

Andrew Prestney presented his son's Iron Man medal at the funeral and his girlfriend presented a hand-crafted guitar.

"It's been like walking around in a fog really for the last two weeks," he told Triple M today.

"We've been on the world's worst rollercoaster it's not much fun, we just want to get off.

"We'll get through today because we are determined to do Josh proud and celebrate his life."

Const. Prestney's brother Alex presented him with his badge when he graduated from the police academy last December.

He also shared a heartfelt message about losing his sibling.

"To my big brother Josh, we have all lost an amazing, bright light in our community; a man for others," he said on Facebook.

"My heart breaks that we are without my brother, my protector, my mate. He didn't follow in my footsteps on the path to Victoria Police, he walked beside me."

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Collingwood Football Club coach Nathan Buckley also reached out to the family and his brother Alex to offer his condolences.

Const. Prestney was a passionate Magpies supporter. The family returned to the freeway crash scene to lay a football scarf at the site. The 2010 Collingwood Premiership Cup also appeared at the funeral.

READ MORE: Partner of fallen police officer Constable Glen Humphris shares anguish

Const. Prestney lost his life alongside Leading Senior Constable Lynette Taylor, Senior Constable Kevin King and Constable Glen Humphris.

Funerals have been held for them in line with coronavirus restrictions.

Deputy Commissioner Rick Nugent in a speech today said he was the reviewing officer at the young constable's Victoria Police graduation and recalled speaking to him about his dreams and ambitions.

"I was as proud as his parents at that moment," he said.

"He wanted to serve the community. He cared enormously for the community. And he wanted to protect the community. And that's what he was doing when he was tragically killed in Kew. A career cut short. A life cut short. And such a promising career."

Police Minister Lisa Neville said Const. Prestney would "forever be a member" of the police force.

"Today we said goodbye to the youngest of those. Josh, who absolutely, from my conversations with the team at Boroondara, what we heard today in a very moving tribute to Josh, had an incredibly bright future serving our community."

Victoria Police officers last week escorted Const. Humphris' body to the border of NSW at Albury-Wodonga, where their interstate colleagues continued the journey to the officer's final resting place in Newcastle.

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A larger state memorial service will be held when coronavirus measures including a 10-person funeral limit are lifted.

The truck driver charged over the deaths said he was "genuinely sorry and saddened" about their deaths.

Mohinder Singh, 47, expressed the sentiment through a statement released by his lawyer Steve Pica on Sunday.

"Mr Singh is genuinely sorry and saddened that four people have lost their lives as a result of the collision," the short statement from Mr Pica said.

"He is acutely aware of the impact upon the families, friends and work colleagues of those that lost their lives."

The Cranbourne man did not apply for bail when he faced the Melbourne Magistrates Court last week and is due to return to court for a committal mention on October 1.

The officers had been standing in the emergency lane of the Eastern Freeway at Kew as they prepared to impound a Porsche 911.

Richard Pusey, the driver who was caught speeding, was charged with nine offences including driving at a dangerous speed, reckless conduct endangering life, failing to render assistance and drug possession.

- With AAP reporting

Source: 9News

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