‘I heard a painful scream from the lorry driver crying, ‘Oh no, he’s here your baby is here’… I knew straight away’

A grieving mother has recalled the terrifying moment she found her son after a driver killed her in a 141mph crash.

Eight-month-old Zackary Blades was thrown from his mother’s car after the horrific wreck on the A1 (M) between Chester-le-Street and Durham. Zackary’s aunt, Karlene Warner, was ejected from the back seat into the front airbags, killing her and her nephew instantly.

Darryl Anderson, 38, was almost three times over the legal drink limit and was using his mobile phone before crashing into the Peugeot driven by Shalorna Warner, Zackary’s mother. Shalorna suffered minor injuries in the crash, which happened at around 3.15am on May 31, reports Teesside Live.

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Anderson had been drinking as he flew back from holiday before getting behind the wheel of his Audi Q5. He was jailed for more than 17 years at Durham Crown Court this week after admitting two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

During the sentencing hearing, Shalorna bravely stood in court to tell the moment a lorry driver found her child on the other side of the carriageway.

She said: “I heard a painful scream from the lorry driver crying, ‘Oh no, he’s here your baby is here.’ I jumped over to find my baby lying on the grass verge of the motor.

“I had to pick up my dead child from the side of the road. I hugged him so tight, a hug I will never forget.

Shalorna Warner, Zackary's mother, speaks outside court

Shalorna Warner, Zackary’s mother, speaks outside court -Credit:Reach PLC

“No words will ever touch the irreparable hole left in my heart and my life. Zackary was my rainbow baby, he was the light at the end of a very dark tunnel and he brought me joy, happiness, and laugh into my life.”

She described her grief as “the nightmare” and herself as “a broken shell of a woman and a childless mother”.

She said: “My child’s future, my future, our life together, has been stolen from me. I will never see you look up and smile again. I will never have that comfort. Instead, every second of every day I relived that night over and over in my head, thinking what did my innocent little boy do to deserve this?”

“And to my sister, Karlene, I have no words. I’m so sorry this happened to you. It’s hard to process something that doesn’t seem real but it feels like I’m living a nightmare. this pain for the rest of my life. i don’t know if i will be able to get through this.

“The impact of these events will increase the hard times and taint any good moments I might have, because Zackary and Karlene live within my heart, and I will never live a normal life again without them.”

Darryl Anderson is in jailDarryl Anderson is in jail

Darryl Anderson is in jail -Credit:No credit

Speaking directly to the judge, she said: “Your honour, I place before you today a broken shell of a woman and a childless mother. But I am not the one to bear this guilt, it is due to the person who cause of this endless groaning I hope this pain will afflict them for eternity.

“Nothing will bring my son and my sister back to me. The only way forward for me is if the defendant faces the same sentence I’m facing in life. I will.”

‘No one should have to go through what we have gone through’

When breathalyzed, Anderson had 95mg of alcohol, the legal limit was 35. Examinations of his mobile phone revealed that Anderson, of Clarell Walk, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, had been making calls and sending texts during his journey from Newcastle Airport. .

At first, he denied the offenses and claimed to have picked up a hitchhiker outside the airport who was driving instead. He said he fell asleep during the trip and only woke up for the accident.

Investigators refuted his story and he pleaded guilty to both counts. He is also banned from driving for 21 and a half years.

Speaking outside court after the sentencing, Shalorna said: “The only thing we expected was a lifetime driving ban which he didn’t get. But now we’re going to fight. He shouldn’t go in in the car again and drive. One should go through what we have lost.”

Karlene WarnerKarlene Warner

Karlene Warner -Credit:Durham Police

“Join us now in our justice for Zachary and Karlene and we will not stop,” said the mother. “I will fight every day that I am on this earth for her.”

Detective Constable Natalie Horner, from Durham Constabulary’s Collision Investigation Unit, said: “As road policing officers, we regularly ask people not to drive over the speed limit. We regularly ask people not to use their mobile phones while driving. And we regularly ask people not to get behind the wheel while drunk.

“Darryl Anderson was doing those three things when he crashed into Shalorna Warner’s car, killing the two passengers, Karlene and the baby Zackary. For his actions, Anderson has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison, but his victims and their families who were given life sentences.

“They are the ones who will spend the rest of their lives grieving the loss of their son, their grandchild, their wife, their sister, and their mother. And for what?”

She added: “I would like to take this moment to express our sincere gratitude to those who have been affected by this tragic incident. act, but they should not have to witness or intervene in such things on the first of all.

“Two police officers and colleagues in the emergency services who responded to this incident, immediately afterwards and during the investigation, will carry the effects of this accident with them for the rest of their lives. And on Shalorna and her family, who showed incredible strength and humility during these ordeals, under the most horrific circumstances, and who must now try to rebuild their lives after their loss.

“Darryl Anderson’s name should be a footnote in this tragic story now. The names we should remember, and the people we should keep in our thoughts, are Karlene and Zackary, and their wonderful family.”

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