News State SA News Horrific three-car collision claims life of top South Australian policewoman

Horrific three-car collision claims life of top South Australian policewoman

A debris field of tangled metal and three crumpled wrecks testify to the lethal violence of the impact. Photo: ABC
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One of the victims of a high-speed crash at Urrbrae, south of Adelaide, has been identified as top-ranking police officer Joanne Shanahan.

Chief Superintendent Shanahan, 55, was one of two people killed in the three-car crash, which happened at the intersection of Cross Road and Fullarton Road about 1:40pm on Saturday afternoon.

Her husband, Peter Shanahan, who was behind the wheel of their Holden SUV, was taken to hospital for treatment.

He has since been discharged and is home with the couple’s adult son and daughter.

Chief Superintendent Joanne Shanahan: “A beautiful person”. Photo: SA Police

Tania McNeill, aged 53, also died, while a 20-year-old man is fighting for life in the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

Witnesses said a Volkswagen ute became airborne and hit a streetlight before crashing to the ground.

Police Commissioner Grant Stevens said Chief Superintendent Shanahan joined SA Police in 1981 and was “a highly respected member of the organisation”.

In 2002 she was promoted to the rank of inspector and worked as a manager and leader in several units, with a particular focus on domestic violence.

She was eventually appointed the inaugural officer-in-charge of the family and domestic violence branch and last year was awarded the Australia Police Medal.

“Not only have we lost a beautiful person but we’ve lost an officer with a wealth of knowledge,” Commissioner Stevens said.

“Detective Chief Superintendent Joanne Shanahan leaves an overwhelming mark on SAPOL.

“We’ve been overwhelmed with the outpouring of grief as a result of Joanne’s passing.”

Most recently, Chief Superintendent Shanahan had played a leadership role in the police response to coronavirus.

Commissioner Stevens attended the crash scene on Saturday afternoon.

Reading a statement on behalf of Ms McNeill’s family, Commissioner Stevens said she was survived by her husband, son, parents and sister.

“Tania was a loving, vibrant lady who enjoyed a good laugh,” he said.
“She was a kind and loving wife, mother, daughter and sister, who would do anything for anyone. She will be greatly missed by family and friends.

“Words cannot describe the pain our family is feeling at this time. Tania’s loss will be deeply felt by so many forever.”

Tossed through the air

A witness to the crash said she watched from the second storey of her nearby home as the ute became airborne.

Jorja Dunn said her mother then witnessed the man’s vehicle crash into a streetlight.

“At eye level the car was in the air,” Ms Dunn said.

“She saw the undercarriage of the car flipping and then the house shook and people were screaming straight away.

“[The driver] was airborne enough on a second storey for us to see.”
Police say they are still investigating the circumstances of the crash.