The Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide Oval, Adelaide Town Hall and other venues in the city were showered in blue light on Monday night in recognition of the two mothers who died at a crash on Sunday while floral tributes piled up at the intersection where they were killed.
Greek Australian SA Police Chief Superintendent Joanne Shanahan (Ioanna Panayiotou) died in southern Adelaide on Saturday after the car she was a passenger in was hit by a Volkswagen ute driven by 20-year-old Harrison Kitt. Her husband driving their Holden SUV, former detective Peter Shanahan, survived the collision.
Mr Kitt is in a serious condition at Royal Adelaide Hospital and is suffering from life threatening injuries due to the impact of the collision. Witnesses told the ABC that the ute flew in the air before crashing on a speedlight. Police visited him in hospital on Monday but it is unclear whether they managed to interview him and the focus is on why Mr Kitt was travelling at such a high speed.
His sister was the police officer first to be called to the scene at a surburban intersection in Urrbrae where two mothers were killed , including the driver of a third car, mother-of-one Tania McNeill, 53.
The driver of a third car, mother-of-one Tania McNeill, 53, also died at the scene after being involved in the crash at a suburban intersection in Urrbrae.
SA police commissioner Grant Stevens on Sunday choked back tears as he announced the death of Chief Superintendent Shanahan.
“Not only have we lost a beautiful person, we’ve lost an officer with a wealth of knowledge,” he said.
“We’ve been overwhelmed by the outpouring of grief by Joanne’s passing.”
She was the third woman in the history of South Australia’s police force to rise to the rank of chief superintendent and she had made mention of the importance of her family when she received the Australian Police Medal at the Australia Day Awards in January 2019 in recognition of her distinguished service and hard work. She told The Adelaide Advertiser: “Coming from quite a strict Greek background and going into the police force as a female was quite significant for my family. They were totally shocked that their daughter wanted to be a police officer. But when I was accepted they were proud as punch.”
She joined the police force in 1981 and rose to the ranks of detective in 1992 and Inspector in 2002. During her career she served in both uniform and CIB roles including specialist crime areas and showed superior leadership commitment in the sectors of family and domestic violence as the Officer in Charge of a Local Services Area Family and Domestic Violence Investigation Unit in 1999. Her career has been full of highlights from serving as District Commander for three months on an exchange with the police in the UK (2010) to being integral to the development of the Multi Agency Protection Service (MAPS), leading to the cross-government project team from concept stage to implementation in 2014.
When asked about her life in the police force at a Greek Orthodox Community of South Australia Women’s Day event in 2019, she said, “I have been in SAPOL 38 years and it still is exciting as when I first joined,” she said. “I still enjoy coming to work every day. I was the first Officer in management to have children and still am the only woman in our Executive group with children. I must say that I have been able to do what I have in my personal life and professional life because of my family and friends, they are important. It has been my mother, father and husband that have cared for the children when I have been at work, it has been my friends that have inspired me and kept me going when I have failed and it is the same people that I share the great moments with and laugh with. I thank those people.”
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Shanahan and Panayiotou families over the tragic, heartbreaking loss of Joanne. Together we grieve with the families, friends and the entire South Australian Police family during this most difficult time,” said Ppiros, GOCSA General Secretary, in a Facebook post.
“We also express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Tania McNeill who also lost her life in the same tragic incident. May both Joanne and Tania rest in peace.
Local politicians praised the Greek woman’s efforts in making Adelaide a safe place and her commitment to her work: