Adelaide radio host David Penberthy breaks down on FiveAA radio talking about the tragic death of South Australian police commissioner Grant Stevens’ son Charlie
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A prominent radio host repeatedly broke down on air while speaking about the tragic death of South Australian police commissioner Grant Stevens’ son Charlie. 

Charlie, 18, was in Goolwa Beach, SA celebrating schoolies when he was allegedly struck by a car on Beach Road at about 9pm last Friday night. 

Adelaide station FiveAA presenters David Penberthy and Will Goodings have become close to Mr Stevens in recent years and regularly interviewed him on their show. 

Speaking through tears on Monday morning, Penberthy said: ‘There is a weight over this town, there’s a weight over our show. 

‘I’ve been dreading even coming in today. I didn’t know how we were even going to address this, because it’s something that affected everyone.’

A prominent Adealide radio host repeatedly broke down on air while speaking about the tragic death of South Australian police commissioner Grant Stevens' (pictured right) son Charlie (left)

A prominent Adealide radio host repeatedly broke down on air while speaking about the tragic death of South Australian police commissioner Grant Stevens’ (pictured right) son Charlie (left)

Penberthy recalled how when he was working in Sydney years ago, the mum of a friend of his in Adelaide died. 

‘He rang me and said “Mate, I just want to get out of Adelaide for a bit and stay with you in Sydney and just not have any points of reference because everything is reminding me of mum,”‘ he remembered. 

‘When I picked him up from the airport I said “How do you feel?” and I remember the words he used, he said “I feel like I’ve been punched in the gut”.’

The radio host said that’s how he had felt since hearing of the death of Charlie Stevens.  

‘I’ve been physically sick all weekend, and I think so many people have too. It’s visceral, it feels like we’re all involved in this.’

Goodings pointed out that during the pandemic, the whole state got to know Mr Stevens as he ‘was on the news every day for two years’.

‘He ran the state in a way no one else has in the history, since federation, for two years. There is no more well known person … in this state. 

‘There’s a reason why everyone collectively feels bloody awful,’ he said. 

Penberthy invited listeners to call in to the show or to send a text about what they were feeling. 

‘You’ve got permission to feel awful today, folks, if you want to get things off your chest, if you want to call in and express your condolences to his family.’

He also spoke about how difficult it was to address the death of the son of someone they know so well.  

‘It is genuinely unfathomable and what you and I do, Will, is we talk about stuff. And it’s actually really hard to talk about, it’s really hard to make sense of, it’s really hard to process,’ he said. 

Goodings added that ‘Five days ago, (Mr Stevens was) sitting here, as he always does, driven by his love for the people of the state, pleading with us to take more care on the roads. 

‘And two days after that interview, his son, his family they’re the story. They’re it.’

Penberthy broke down again, saying ‘My God, his kids and his wife. But then the police, the day they had, starting in the south-east (with the killing of Sergeant Jason Doig in Bordertown). 

‘And there was another tragedy involving police last week in the Riverland too, and Grant was involved in all of that.’

Both Sgt Doig and Charlie Stevens attended the prestigious Mercedes College in Adelaide. 

Charlie left the school in 2022 for a carpentry apprenticeship, while Sgt Doig graduated from there in 1988. 

‘While Charlie left Mercedes College in 2022 to pursue a carpentry apprenticeship, he remained closely connected to his friends and peers,’ the Catholic school’s principal Andrew Balkwill said.

‘Our thoughts and prayers are also with (Mr Doig’s) family, friends, and colleagues.’

Charlie Stevens (pictured), 18, was in Goolwa Beach, SA celebrating schoolies when he was allegedly struck by a car on Beach Road at about 9pm last Friday night

Charlie Stevens (pictured), 18, was in Goolwa Beach, SA celebrating schoolies when he was allegedly struck by a car on Beach Road at about 9pm last Friday night

Sergeant Jason Doig (pictured) was killed on duty during a violent confrontation in South Australia

Sergeant Jason Doig (pictured) was killed on duty during a violent confrontation in South Australia

Mr Penberthy said it was the media’s job to hold public officials to account, such as when Scott Morrison went to Hawaii with his family during the 2019 bushfires.

‘Whether you agree with it or not, they were stories about people whose dedication to the public was questioned by some,’ Penberthy said.  

‘No one would ever question Grant. Like Friday, (he) went straight down to Bordertown,’ Goodings added.

His co-host said that throughout Covid, Mr Stevens ‘brought in restrictions for the greater good, cognisant of the fact that it would stop his own daughter from getting married the following weekend’. 

But Penberthy said that the police commissioner did not want to talk publicly about the personal affect the lockdown would have on his own family. 

‘We knew about it, but he said he didn’t want to talk about it, he didn’t want to look like he was some victim. He’s just a total no bulls*** person,’ he said. 

He added that ‘We don’t become friends with many people that we interview. Some of them never talk to us again.’

Then Penberthy broke down again, saying ‘we love this bloke … why do such terrible bloody things happen to such good people? 

‘You can’t even begin to wrap your head around the cruelty of it all.’

FiveAA presenters David Penberthy (left) and Will Goodings (right) have become close to Mr Stevens in recent years and regularly interviewed him on their show

FiveAA presenters David Penberthy (left) and Will Goodings (right) have become close to Mr Stevens in recent years and regularly interviewed him on their show

Charlie Stevens was in Goolwa Beach celebrating schoolies on Friday when he was allegedly struck by a car on Beach Road at about 9pm

Charlie Stevens was in Goolwa Beach celebrating schoolies on Friday when he was allegedly struck by a car on Beach Road at about 9pm 

He said that on Sunday he bumped into someone he knew ‘and we just looked at each other and started crying there outside Big W in Cumberland Park’.

Goodings then read out an emotional text from a listener: ‘What hits us hardest is the cruelest irony,’ the texter wrote. 

‘The guy most invested in this state about our road safety – the fact that the family loses a son and a brother to what’s happening on the roads.’

Penberthy also said the fact that Charlie Stevens died while waiting to travel to a schoolies event made it more ‘relatable’ to parents who were concerned about their children’s attendance at similar gatherings. 



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