IT HAD been four decades since the passing of two South East police officers and yet the emotions still ran high on Tuesday at the Mount Gambier Police Station as both were remembered.
At the age of 24, Mount Gambier’s Warren Matheson was killed on March 29, 1982, in a high-speed pursuit while serving at Darlington Police Station in Adelaide.
With him was Rendelsham’s Mathew Payne, 22, who was also killed.
Commemorating the deaths of the two young constables were more than 60 serving and retired police officers who had travelled, mainly on motorcycles, from Adelaide.
They were joined by friends and family of Mr Matheson at a memorial service at the Mount Gambier station.
Among them was his cousin, Debra Hateley who tearfully described her cousin as a fun loving child.
“Warren and I used to spend some time together, whether it was barbeques, playing together or other stuff at either his house or my house, he could be a brat at times but he turned into an amazing adult,” Ms Hateley said.
“He was older than me by a couple of months and I was closer to his sister than him because he was always off playing with my brother.
“I never expected Warren to become a police officer, the last thing I expected him to do was join the academy.
“I was really proud of him, but to lose him eight years later was devastating,” Ms Hateley said.
“When we lost him, I couldn’t believe it because he was so lovely and it was just devastating.
“It was really unbelievable and our family was absolutely devastated, everyone was.”
Losing her cousin at such a young age, the tearful family member said it was worse knowing he had left behind a wife and two young children.
“It was a very bad time,” she said.
“But to have a memoriam like this, I was blown away by the response and proud to be able to come down and see it, meeting people that knew him whether it be from the police academy or were friends with him when he was little.
“It is great to know he is still remembered because the work policemen do is so significant.”
Limestone Coast Police Superintendent Campbell Hill commended the memoriam, stating it was significant to remember police officers who had passed away.
“These reflections can make the tough days worth it as policing is tough business and there have been significant difficulties put on police during the pandemic but we get injured in a multitude of ways,” Supt Hill said.
“Events like this is a good reflection of the culture of remembrance that we have of police who have passed because what we work for is public safety.”