Shattered family of crash driver ‘in depth of despair’
The parents of a young man who survived a horror crash that claimed the lives of a decorated senior police officer and a beloved mother say they are heartbroken for the victims' families.
Kathy and Andrew Kitt, the parents of 20-year-old Harrison Kitt, released a statement on Friday saying they are devastated that emergency services crews had to witness the trauma.
SA Police Chief Superintendent Joanne Shanahan, 55, and Tania McNeill, 53, were killed in what police said was a high-speed crash at an Urrbrae intersection on Anzac Day.
Mr Kitt, who was driving a Volkswagen ute, sustained serious leg injuries in the crash and remains in the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where he is also receiving psychiatric treatment.
His parents say he had been displaying uncharacteristic behaviour that alarmed his family and friends in the days leading up to the tragedy.
"It is impossible to find the words to describe the depth of our despair. We are heartbroken for the families who have been affected by this catastrophic accident," the statement says.
"We are devastated that emergency services personnel had to bear witness to that trauma.
"We, and no doubt the families, friends and colleagues of the occupants of the other vehicles, all want to understand why this happened.
"We have only known our son, Harrison, to be a kind, responsible and compassionate young man. He has always been a conscientious student, a loving son and brother, a great friend and a hard worker.
"But whatever underlies what occurred, it cannot bring back the two lives that have been so tragically lost. There is no undoing what has happened and the weight of that recognition is almost impossible to bear."
Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, who attended the crash scene along with Deputy Commissioner Linda Williams, described it as "one of the most horrific" he had seen.
Chief-Supt Shanahan, who also served as acting assistant commissioner, was the passenger in a Holden SUV driven by her husband, Peter Shanahan.
Mr Shanahan, 63, a former detective and now SA Police General Counsel, was treated for minor injuries in hospital.
Mr Stevens described Chief-Supt Shanahan as "one of our finest senior police officers".
"Not only have we lost a beautiful person but we've lost an officer with a wealth of knowledge," an emotional Mr Stevens said on Sunday.
"She had a passion for helping people and she cared about people - not just her friends and her family - but people she genuinely held concerns for and supported during very difficult times as a police officer."
Ms McNeill was the sole occupant of a BMW involved in the crash. Her family paid tribute to a "loving, vibrant lady who enjoyed a good laugh".
"She was a kind and loving mother, wife, daughter and sister who would do anything for anyone," they said in a statement.
Landmark city buildings, including Adelaide Oval and Parliament House, were lit up in blue on Monday night to commemorate mother-of-two Chief-Supt Shanahan.
She joined the force in 1981 and was just the third woman in SA Police history to be appointed Chief Superintendent.
Her career spanned more than three decades and involved major cases that shocked the state, including the child abuse uncovered in the northern suburbs House of Horrors in 2008.
Chief-Supt Shanahan, the daughter of Greek immigrants, received the Australian Police Medal in the 2019 Australia Day honours.
Originally published as Shattered family of crash driver 'in depth of despair'