101 people have lost their lives on the South Australia roads this year. #101 was Charlie Stevens, son of SA’s Police Commissioner Grant Stevens. Even more heartbreaking is that Charlie became one of our ever-growing road fatality statistics, something his dad has been relentlessly campaigning for most of this year as South Australia’s road toll soared to its highest level in more than a decade.
Charlie Boy. Chaz. An avid footy fan and master of the air fryer. Just 18 years old. Vibrant. Cheeky. Kind. Charlie was loved by so many – his family, his friends, and his two sausage dogs.
Charlie is the youngest son of Police Commissioner Grant Stevens and his wife Emma. Last Friday, he was with friends waiting for a shuttle bus to head to Schoolies celebrations in Victor Harbor when he was allegedly struck by an 18-year-old local man. Charlie suffered severe injuries and was airlifted to the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Shortly after, doctors declared that he had suffered ‘irreversible brain damage’ and was put on life support. Sadly, he died 22 hours later.
Charlie Stevens: 101
Charie’s dad, Grant sat down in his bedroom and penned this letter. We love that he’s given us an insight (and tribute) to his son because rather than just be remembered as a ‘statistic’ and road victim #101, he shared insights into who he was and the incredible impact he had on his family and those around him.
I’m sure you’ll agree that no parent ever dreams they’ll have to say goodbye to their child, and Grant has really hit the nail on the head about the importance of not looking at our rising road toll as ‘another number’ and think about the impact it has on the families, the community and our state as a whole.
Grant and Emma then shared the letter via the South Australia Police Facebook page, painting a vivid portrait of his son, Charlie, and celebrating the amazing young man he had become.
Read Commissioner Grant Stevens’ letter in full:
I am writing this sitting in a bedroom with dirty clothes on the floor, an unmade bed, six dinking 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 is perfect. This is where 101 lived.
101 arrived on the 28th of April 2005 and changed our Iives forever. 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.
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. 101 hated cheese because his brother did. He was a master of the airfryer, the nutribullet and the steamer. He loved his mum’s curried sausages but he didn’t know where the dishwasher was…
His favourite pastime was pushing 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”.
101 loved footy. He loved the Cats, he played 100 games for the Mitcham Hawks, then the Jets, the Goody Saints, the Camels and Westies, he just wanted to play and be a part of the team. 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.
His enthusiasm for school saw no bounds – except start time and school work. But his enthusiasm for his family and his mates was real. 101 had a circle of friends the rest of us could only dream about. He loved his mates and they loved him. His friends parents’ liked having 101 in their homes. He was mates with his brother’s mates. Living with him meant waking up on weekends to four or five extra bodies in spare beds and on couches. It meant the family garage being transformed into a man cave where things parents did not know about (or probably permit) could happen.
The only time we saw 101 truly angry was when he was forced to cut his precious hair for his sister’s wedding in 2021. He never went back to a hairdresser again.
Being 101’s alarm clock was a role his mum and I took up when he left school and started his apprenticeship. “Get up mate”, “get up mate”, “mate, get up’”, “are you not gong to work today”, followed by “drive safely and don’t speed” becoming the morning mantra.
101 thrived at work, he loved working, loved his job and he idolised his boss. It meant he had money for TA Tuesdays and Wednesday wings at the Feathers. 101 was adored by the sausage dogs Grace and Zoe, who would sneak into his bed at night.
On a good day we would be lucky to see 101 for half an hour between getting home from work and heading out with his mates, but it was enough.
101 is Charlie 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.
Son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew, cousin, friend, workmate, team mate. So much more than just a number on a tragic tally.”
A timely reminder on the importance of organ donation
In honour of Charlie’s memory and the 101 lives lost on South Australia’s roads this year, the Stevens family has urged everyone to consider the significance of organ and tissue donation.
They encourage readers to engage in conversations about this vital topic with their family and friends, emphasising the potential to save lives through the generous act of organ donation.
Registering for organ donation is easy too. Simply go to www.donatelife.gov.au.
Tributes pour in for Charlie
People have flocked to the Facebook post to share their condolences and stories of Charlie Stevens. Many have also thanked the commissioner for writing such a touching letter that not only honours Charlie but all of the others we’ve lost on our roads.
Charlie is 101 this year alone. And just in South Australia. There are many, many more.
Charlie was allegedly killed by a hit and run by Encounter Bay man Dhirren Randhawa, also 18. He was granted bail in court yesterday after the crash and has been charged with causing death by dangerous driving, aggravated driving without due care, leaving the scene of a crash after causing death and failing to truly answer questions. He has had his licence reface court again in March.
Our thoughts are with Grant Stevens and his family as they process the loss of Charlie.