Parents’ crash pain
THE parents of a young man who survived a horror crash that killed a decorated senior police officer and a beloved mother say they are heartbroken for the victims’ families.
Kathy and Andrew Kitt have revealed concerns about the mental health of their son, 20-year-old Harrison Kitt, in the days leading up to the tragedy, which claimed the lives of Chief Superintendent Joanne Shanahan and Tania McNeill.
HARRISON Kitt’s mental health had deteriorated in the days leading up to a horrific crash that killed a decorated senior police officer and a beloved mother, his devastated parents have revealed.
But Andrew and Kathy Kitt say the worrying signs they had been observing in their 20year-old son were just “the tip of an iceberg”.
Shortly before the crash, which claimed the lives of Chief Superintendent Joanne Shanahan, and Tania McNeill, one of Harry’s friends called Mr and Mrs Kitt to express his concerns.
That same friend also contacted police, who sent an ambulance to the family’s Urrbrae home.
Harry was then involved in what police described as a high-speed crash at the intersection of Cross and Fullarton roads, Urrbrae, on Anzac Day, April 25.
Chief-Supt Shanahan, 55, and Ms McNeill, 53, died at the scene. Harry, who was driving a Volkswagen ute, sustained serious leg injuries and remains in the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where he is also receiving psychiatric treatment.
In a statement released yesterday, Mr and Mrs Kitt say: “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. 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.”
Mr and Mrs Kitt say they do not understand what triggered their son before the crash, describing his behaviour as uncharacteristic. “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,” their statement says. “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.”
Chief-Supt Shanahan, who had 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.
An emotional Police Commissioner Grant Stevens described Chief-Supt Shanahan as “one of our finest”. Ms McNeill’s family said she was a “loving, vibrant lady”.
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TREATMENT: Harrison Kitt is receiving psychiatric care in the Royal Adelaide Hospital. He was involved in a crash that killed Chief-Supt Joanne Shanahan, inset, and mother Tania McNeill.