The parents of a 20-year-old man involved in a high-speed crash that claimed two lives — including that of senior police officer Joanne Shanahan — say they had been worried about his mental state in the days leading up to the incident.
- Harrison Kitt’s Volkswagen ute was one of three cars involved in a crash that killed two women
- His parents said they “want to understand why this has happened” but expect answers to be some time away
- Kathy and Andrew Kitt expressed their condolences for the families of Joanne Shanahan and Tania McNeill
Harrison Kitt’s Volkswagen ute was one of three cars involved in the crash, which took place at an Urrbrae intersection on Saturday afternoon.
Chief Superintendent Shanahan, 55, and another woman, 53-year-old Tania McNeill, were killed, while Mr Kitt was seriously injured and has undergone “complex surgery” at the Royal Adelaide Hospital.
Police have not laid any charges over the crash.
In a statement released Friday, Mr Kitt’s parents said it was “impossible to find the words to describe the depth of our despair”.
“We have only known our son, Harrison, to be a kind, responsible and compassionate young man,” Andrew and Kathy Kitt said.
“We don’t understand what triggered this incident but we had been worried about Harry’s mental health in the few days leading up to it.
The Kitts said an ambulance had been despatched to their home to check on their son, but they were not aware of the magnitude of the issue.
“It has only been since Saturday that we have come to learn that what we had been observing in Harry was the tip of an iceberg that had been building quickly over a few short days,” they said.
The young man’s parents said his injuries were serious but “almost insignificant” compared to the “complex mental health issues” he will now need to work through.
“We, and no doubt the family, friends and colleagues of the occupants of the other vehicles, all want to understand why this has happened,” the statement said.
“We expect that it will be some time before the questions on everyone’s minds can be answered.”
They also paid tribute to the Chief Superintendent Shanahan and Ms McNeill.
“But, whatever underlies what occurred, it cannot bring back the two lives that have been so tragically lost,” the statement said.
“There is no un-doing what has happened and the weight of that recognition is almost impossible to bear.”
Car went ‘flying through the air’
Witnesses to the crash said they saw Mr Kitt’s ute become airborne and hit a streetlight before crashing to the ground.
Jorja Dunn said her mother witnessed the collision from the second storey of her nearby home.
“At eye level the car was in the air,” Ms Dunn said.
“She saw the undercarriage of the car flipping and then the house shook and people were screaming straight away.
Chief Superintendent Shanahan’s husband, Peter Shanahan, was behind the wheel of their Holden SUV, while Ms McNeill was driving a silver BMW.
Mr Shanahan, a retired police detective who is now general counsel to SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, was taken to hospital but discharged a short time later.
Commissioner Stevens visited the crash scene on Saturday afternoon and paid tribute to both victims the following day.
He said Chief Superintendent Shanahan had joined SA Police in 1981 and was “a highly respected member of the organisation”.
Reading a statement on behalf of Ms McNeill’s family, Commissioner Stevens said she was a “loving, vibrant lady who enjoyed a good laugh”.
“Tania’s loss will be deeply felt by so many forever,” he said.
Several Adelaide landmarks — including the Adelaide Town Hall, Entertainment Centre, Adelaide Oval and Adelaide Convention Centre — were bathed in blue light during the week to pay tribute to both victims.
Police described the crash as “high-speed” and said investigations were continuing.