THE North East highway patrol policeman struck and killed by a bus on Sunday afternoon was on his annual birthday bicycle ride from Benalla to Melbourne.
Benalla highway patrol Acting Sgt Brendan Lynch, who turned 52 on Saturday, was killed when his bike and a bus collided on the Hume Freeway at Beveridge, near Wallan.
It is believed Sgt Lynch was struck by the bus as it travelled south on the Hume Freeway near the Northern Highway on-ramp about 2pm.
Benalla highway patrol sergeant and friend Darren Wittingslow said the ride from Benalla to Melbourne was Sgt Lynch’s birthday present to himself every year.
Sgt Wittingslow, who described Sgt Lynch as his “right-hand man” in a tight-knit highway patrol unit of 10 officers, paid tribute to a committed and thorough officer of more than 30 years.
“I used to say there were four things in life that are a given: mortality, taxes, the sun rising on our faces each day and Brendan Lynch,” he said.
“He was a man who had done more than 30 years and never had a sick day in his life. He was committed to the job and the community.”
The devoted husband and father of four had a passion for helping young people.
He ran karate classes and volunteered with various activities, believing that if you gave children positive role models, it might stop them from falling off the rails later on.
Sgt Wittingslow said his mate had a nose for finding drugs.
One of his biggest busts came in 2010 when he stopped a car on the Hume and found cannabis valued at $200,000.
“He could smell it 100 yards away. He was amazing,” Sgt Wittingslow said.
Sgt Lynch also had a knack for saving lives. He saved an elderly man out walking his dog who had fallen on railway tracks in Benalla.
Sgt Lynch dragged the man, 84, from the tracks only moments before a train roared by.
Sgt Wittingslow, sitting in the office he shared with Sgt Lynch, reached for a paper that listed dates of road deaths in the Benalla area going back to 1998.
Two dates on the list make this latest burden even tougher for Sgt Wittingslow to bear — December 26, 1998, and April 26, 2005.
Benalla highway patrol officers were killed on-duty on those dates. Sen-Constable Simon De Winne’s car crashed into a tree, and Sen-Constable Rennie Page was struck by a car as he checked a driver’s licence on the side of the freeway.
Sgt Wittingslow said March 31, 2013, would be added to his growing list of fatalities for the year and this one, again, too close to home.
He glances out the window to the front of the station where there’s a memorial to fallen officers.
Again, another addition.
“He’ll be on there forever,” Sgt Wittingslow said.
He said Sgt Lynch had always wanted to be a sergeant, and he got his wish recently when his rank was upgraded from that of a Leading Sen-Constable.
“He’ll be a sergeant for eternity,” Sgt Wittingslow said.
Sgt Lynch will be farewelled in a service at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Benalla on Monday at 11am.