South Australia’s police commissioner and his wife have penned an emotional tribute to their son, who died after an alleged hit-and-run in the state’s south coast on Friday night.
Commissioner Grant Stevens and wife Emma released a poignant two-page letter to their 18-year-old son Charlie on Tuesday.
It referred to Charlie, the Stevens’ youngest child, as the 101st life lost in South Australia this year. But it also noted he was “so much more than just a number on a tragic tally”.
“101 is Charles Hinchliffe Stevens — Chare, Charle Boy, Chas, Links, Steve. You lived life and gave so much to so many,” the Stevens wrote.
“You were a force of nature and we will never forget your beautiful, cheeky, disarming smile.”
Charlie Stevens died in hospital, surrounded by family, after being struck by a car in Goolwa, about 90 kilometres south-east of Adelaide, on Friday night.
The man accused over the hit and run, 18-year-old Dhirren Randhawa, was released on bail after appearing at Christies Beach Magistrates Court on Monday via audio-visual link. He faces four charges, including causing death by dangerous driving.
In their letter, the devastated Stevens describe the son they loved, the room he left behind, and precious memories that will stay in their hearts.
“Cheeky, intense and funny – a loveable ratbag from the moment he could talk,” they write.
“He was frustrating as hell, but he was also the kid who would look after others, befriend the lonely and help those who were struggling.
“Intensity shone through as 101 committed to each new passion – Lego, BBL, scooters, footy, cricket, basketball, surfing, downhilling, Fortnite and his skateboard – it was all or nothing, and it was always all.”
Their words were released by SA Premier Peter Malinauskas, saying “In honour of 101, the family would also like to raise awareness on the importance of organ donation and ask those reading this to talk about organ and tissue donation with your family and friends”.
In an earlier statement, the Stevens thanked police, first responders and other emergency services workers who attended the incident.
“The Stevens family also wish to thank the wider community for their support during this difficult time in particular the family acknowledge the dedicated staff at the Flinders Medical Centre for their care and support of Charlie and his family and friends,” they said.
Malinauskas said the thoughts of all South Australians were with the couple and their children.
“Grant Stevens has served South Australia as a member of South Australian Police for over 40 years,” he said.
“His whole life he has dedicated himself to protecting others, protecting South Australians from evil, protecting us from disease.
“He has shown extraordinary leadership in some of the most difficult circumstances this state has ever confronted, and it is just so unjust that he and his family have now had to endure this great tragedy themselves.”
Randhawa is also charged with aggravated driving without due care, leaving the scene of a crash after causing death and failing to truly answer questions.
His bail application on Monday was not opposed by SA Director of Public Prosecutions Martin Hinton.
Randhawa’s lawyer said he would accept all conditions requested by the prosecution, including that he live at his mother Amreeta Stara’s home, he surrender his passport, not enter the driver’s seat of a vehicle and provide a $15,000 guarantee.
His driver’s licence has been disqualified indefinitely.
Randhawa will face Adelaide Magistrates Court in March.