Mourners farewell ‘force of nature’ Charlie Stevens

SA Police chief's emotional tribute to son

10 News First – Disclaimer

More than 1000 South Australians have gathered to mourn the loss of a young man most had never met but whose death has deeply touched people across the state.

Charlie Stevens, the son of the state’s Police Commissioner Grant Stevens, died on November 18 after sustaining irreversible brain injuries in an alleged hit-and-run incident, triggering an outpouring of support for him and his family.

“Charlie, your mum and I love you, and we are devastated that you were taken from us so soon,” Stevens told a twilight service at Adelaide Oval on Thursday.

His wife Emma by his side guided him through every word as he fought back tears.

“You were a force of nature – full of energy, unstoppable, unforgettable.

“We are heartbroken but we can’t think of you without smiling. We have missed you every day since we said goodbye and we will always miss you.

“We will love you forever Charlie Boy.”

Mourners spilled into the grandstands after the 800-person capacity Magarey Room packed out well before the ceremony began.

Schoolmates and strangers alike expressed their solidarity with the commissioner and his family after a devastating few weeks for the wider police community.

Stevens, a figure widely applauded for his stewardship of the community during the COVID-19 pandemic, received the crushing news mere hours after speaking about the fatal shooting of Brevet Sergeant Jason Doig.

Through their grief, Charlie’s parents managed to pen an emotional tribute to their son – the 101st life lost on SA roads this year.

“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,” it read.

“This is where 101 lived.”

Tom Rehn, a sports reporter for the Nine Network and a close family friend, broke down in tears while reading the letter on live television.

He battled his emotions again to regale the crowd of Charlie’s exploits with his son – Charlie’s great mate Xavier – after receiving a call to pick the boys up following a “mishap” in an Uber home on a night out.

“Although they’d probably gone a little bit too hard on the celebrations, there was Charlie, right next to his mate,” he said.

“He wasn’t going to leave his side. He was loyal.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese called the letter “so perfectly true to the life of one young man in one loving family” as it was read into federal parliament’s permanent record on Tuesday.

“Yet it is somehow so universal, so faithful to the joyful chaos of perfect mess, the vibrancy of our children as they grow into young adults and so achingly powerful as it deals with every parent’s very worst fear,” Albanese said.

Sister Sophie and brothers Dylan, Josh and Tom remembered fighting, laughing with and watching their younger brother grow into a loveable “ratbag”, devoted to his mates and generous to a fault.

Rather than send flowers, Charlie’s parents asked mourners to consider organ donation and contribute to the Operation Flinders Foundation.

South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas earlier on Thursday announced the government would donate $100,000 to the youth charity, of which Stevens is a board member.

Dhirren Randhawa, 18, faces four charges, including causing death by dangerous driving, over the fatal crash at Goolwa, about 90 kilometres south-east of Adelaide.

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