SA police commissioner pens heartfelt letter to son who died in alleged hit and run
Charles. Chas. Links. Steve.
Of all the names South Australia’s top cop Grant Stevens had for his teenage son, Charlie, there is one title he wishes he never had to give him – 101.
“I am writing this sitting in a bedroom with dirty clothes on the floor, an unmade bed, six drinking glasses lined up on the bedside table, an empty KFC box next to the glasses, wardrobe doors left open and a row of skateboards leaning on the wall – it is a mess and it’s perfect,” he wrote.
“This is where 101 lived.”
The SA police commissioner has spent much of this year imploring South Australians to drive responsibly as the 2023 road toll soared to its highest level in more than a decade.
But the 101st fatality on SA roads this year was a personally devastating blow for Stevens and his wife, Emma.
Their 18-year-old youngest child, Charlie, died in an Adelaide hospital on Saturday after suffering an brain injury in an alleged hit-run.
Stevens says his son Charlie was “a force of nature”.
The grieving parents on Tuesday released an emotional tribute to their son – 101 – laying bare their pain and raising awareness about the importance of organ donation.
“101 arrived on the 28th of April 2005 and changed our lives forever,” the letter says.
“The last of five – he was different.
“Cheeky, intense and funny – a loveable ratbag from the moment he could talk. He was as frustrating as hell, but he was also the kid who would look after others, befriend the lonely and help those who were struggling.”
They describe Charlie’s passions for footy, cricket and surfing, as well as his enthusiasm for friends and family and an ability to push his mum’s buttons.
“Although a different name is on his birth certificate, ‘f*** off Charlie’ was what you would hear most in our house, followed closely by ‘put a shirt on’ and ‘take your hat off at the table’,” the letter says.
“It was 101 who taught us you can’t shower unless you have your Bluetooth speaker fully cranked so mum and dad can’t hear themselves talk in the kitchen.
“101 never wanted for soap, shampoo or shavers – someone else in the house always has it – even a used towel!”
The letter paints a picture of an affable young man whose loss will be felt by family, friends and the broader community.
“Living with him meant waking up on weekend to four or five extra bodies in spare beds and on couches,” it says.
“It meant the family garage being transformed into a man cave where things parents did not know about (or probably permit) could happen.
“On a good day, we would be lucky to see 101 for half an hour between him getting home from work and heading out with his mates, but it was enough.”
Stevens found out about his son’s accident just hours after addressing the state about the shooting death of police officer Jason Doig in the line of duty.
Landmarks, including SAPOL headquarters and the Adelaide Oval, were bathed in blue light on Monday night in honour of Doig and solidarity with the broader police family.
“101 is Charles Hinchliffe Stevens – Charlie, Charlie Boy, Chas, Links, Steve. You lived life and gave so much to so many. You were a force of nature and we will never forget your beautiful, cheeky, disarming smile,” the letter concludes.
“Son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, workmate, teammate. So much more than just a number on a tragic tally.”