By Helena Adeloju
Police and Cardinia Life have paid tribute to a colleague and friend after Pakenham Upper resident Sergeant Ken Rich died tragically in a Good Friday accident.
Long-time friend Sergeant Rob Madeley from Narre Warren Police Station said Sgt Rich’s death had been deeply felt.
“He had many friends from serving in the Victorian police force for nearly 40 years,” he said.
“He will be greatly missed by all who knew him.”
Sgt Madeley, who was a police cadet with Sgt Rich at the beginning of their careers, described his friend as “a family oriented man who adored his wife and five kids”.
Sgt Rich was cycling with one of his daughters when he was in a collision with a Toyota Hilux about 8.50am on the Princes Highway near Dore Road.
Sergeant Rich’s daughter is reported to have cared for him at the scene until an ambulance arrived. Although paramedics worked on him for about an hour, he died at the scene.
The driver of the ute, a 58-year-old man from Pakenham, was not injured.
He stayed at the scene and was assisting police as Major Collision Investigation Unit detectives worked to determine the cause of the crash.
Despite the tragic circumstances, Sgt Rich died doing something he had loved all his life.
A keen cyclist, runner and football player in his youth, Sgt Rich had an enduring passion for sport, his friend said.
“He was a mad Sydney Swans supporter,” he said.
Sgt Rich’s love of sport also had a community focus. He was a member of the Cardinia Life community for many years and was the president of the Cardinia Piranhas Swim Club.
Speaking on behalf of the Cardinia Life team, Cardinia Leisure manager Simon Bryson said Sgt Rich was a “highly regarded member”.
“Ken’s death is a tragedy that has shaken us all,” he said.
Mr Bryson said Sgt Rich would be remembered as an active, passionate and giving person.
“We would like to extend our sincerest condolences to the Rich family from everyone at the club,” he said.
Service to the community was a way of life for Sgt Rich whether he was off duty or on.
He started out as a police cadet in 1980 and graduated from the Police Academy in 1981.
He began his working life as a policeman in Russel Street Police Headquarters in Melbourne before going on to work in Oakleigh, Glen Waverley, and Narre Warren. He also served in temporary positions at Dandenong and Pakenham. He had been serving at the Narre Warren Police Station for more than 20 years.
Sgt Rich is survived by his wife Kerry and their adult children Samantha, Charlene, Jacinta, Crystal and Brandon.
His funeral is expected to take place with police honours at the Police Academy later this week.
The Rich family have asked people to donate to the Amy Gillet Foundation in lieu of flowers.
Just one day after Sgt Rich’s death, police and emergency services were called to another incident on the Princes Freeway in Tynong on Saturday 15 April when a SUV and 4WD collided at the Tynong Road intersection shortly before 5pm.
The male driver of the SUV died at the scene while the female passenger was airlifted to Melbourne with life-threatening injuries.
The male driver and female passenger of the 4WD were taken to hospital by road with non-life threatening injuries.
Both incidents are the subject of ongoing investigations and police have appealed for witnesses to the fatal accidents.
The road toll for Victoria now stands at 72, just 10 shy of the number of lives lost in 2016.
Anyone who witnessed either crash or has any information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit a confidential crime report at www.crimestoppersvic.com.au.