AUSTRALIA – Four Australian police officers have been killed in a crash involving a “lorry,” otherwise known in the United States as a tractor-trailer, or big rig. The police chief for the state of Victoria said it was the worst loss of life in the history of the state’s police force.
Officers had pulled over a car for speeding on a motorway when the lorry plowed into them, officials said.
The driver of the car – a Porsche 911 – fled the scene on foot and is being sought by police, the BBC reported.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said the lorry driver was under guard in a local hospital. Moreover, he would be tested for alcohol and drugs, the commissioner said.
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The fatal circumstances occurred after two of the officers pulled over the Porsche on to the paved shoulder of Melbourne’s Eastern Freeway near Kew on Tuesday at about 17:40 local time (08:40 GMT).
The officers decided to have the car impounded and called for other officers to assist them.
Two more officers eventually arrived. All four were standing outside of their respective vehicles when the refrigerated lorry smashed into them as well as the Porsche, Ashton told reporters. The man driving the Porsche was apparently uninjured and able to flee on foot following the deadly collision.
Ashton said the lorry driver was not yet able to answer questions.
“When it’s possible for him to be interviewed he will be interviewed,” he added.
Premier Dan Andrews of Victoria, hailed the officers as “heroes” who had lost their lives in the line of duty.
“Tonight, somewhere in our city, four families’ hearts are breaking. Our hearts are breaking with them, …” he said in a statement. “Though we may not yet know their names – we will always call them heroes.”
Wayne Gatt, secretary of the state’s Police Association, said the tragedy was “a brutally sad reminder” of the dangers faced by police “every minute of every shift,” ABC News reported.