Thu. Jul 25th, 2024
alert-–-mother-relives-harrowing-moment-she-picked-up-her-dead-‘rainbow-baby’-son-from-road-after-he-was-killed-with-his-aunt-when-he-was-thrown-160ft-from-car-in-140mph-crash-with-drink-driver-–-as-killer-is-jailed-for-17-yearsAlert – Mother relives harrowing moment she picked up her dead ‘rainbow baby’ son from road after he was killed with his aunt when he was thrown 160ft from car in 140mph crash with drink driver – as killer is jailed for 17 years

A distraught mother has relieved the harrowing moment she was left searching a motorway for her dead ‘rainbow’ baby after he was killed with his aunt during a 140mph crash with a drink driver. 

Darryl Anderson, 38, was today jailed for 17 years for killing eight-month-old Zackary Blades and the infant’s aunt, air stewardess Karlene Warner.

Anderson took a photograph on his phone of the dashboard of his Audi Q5 three seconds before impact, which showed he was driving at 141mph and the vehicle was flashing a red collision warning alert.

However, Durham Crown Court heard he was so drunk and distracted that he didn’t even see the Peugeot 308 feet ahead of him being driven by Zackary’s mother, Sharlona Warner.

The impact was such that it ripped away the back of Ms Warner’s car and jettisoned Zackary, who was strapped into his baby seat, a distance of 160ft onto the opposite carriageway of the A1 between Chester-Le-Street and Durham.

In her victim personal statement, Sharlona Warner said: ‘I knew instantly. I had to pick my dead baby up from the side of the road. I hugged him so tight, a hug I will never forget.

‘No words will surmount the irreparable hole that has been left in my heart and in my life. Zackary was my rainbow baby – he was the light at the end of a tunnel of a very dark time for me and brought joy, happiness, and laughter into my life.

‘My baby’s future, my future, our life together, has been stolen from me. I won’t ever see him look up and smile at me again. I won’t have that luxury. Instead, every second of every day I relive that night over and over again in my head, thinking what did my innocent little boy do to deserve this?

‘And for my sister, Karlene, I just have no words. I am so sorry this happened to you. It’s hard to process something that doesn’t seem real – it just feels like I am living a nightmare.

‘I will feel the ripples of this pain for the rest of my life. I don’t know if I will be able to get through this – I am scarred, I am traumatised, I am petrified to live my life.

‘The impact of these events will amplify the hard times and taint any good moment I may possibly have, because within my heart lives Zackary and Karlene, and I will never live a normal life again without them.’

She added: ‘This guilt is not mine to bear – this guilt is owed to the person that caused this infinite agony. I hope the pain of this weighs them down for all eternity.

‘Nothing will bring my son and my sister back to me. The only way forward for myself is if the defendant faces the same sentence I am facing – life. The irony of it all is that I will never see my loved ones again, but he will.’

Wiping tears from her face, Ms Warner said she remembered the impact which sent her car spinning.

She looked to her left to see Karlene clearly badly injured in the passenger air bag but knew she had to try to help Zackary, calling to Karlene: ‘I will come back for you.’ 

Ms Warner said: ‘I ran to the left rear side of the car where Zackary would have been, but there was no back of the car, it was crushed.

‘I could not see my baby, I was standing on wreckage, picking up smashed bits of the car and throwing them, trying to find him but he was not there. I was screaming his name and I called 999.

‘I saw the other driver and I ran to him and said ”Help, I cannot find my baby. I was screaming Zack, Zack.

‘He did not help, he never helped. I began running up to the traffic waving my arms and screaming at cars to help me.’

On the opposite carriageway a lorry driver pulled over and warned her not to run towards the traffic.

Ms Warner found Zackary’s car seat and turned it over, only to find he was not inside it. Then a shout from the lorry driver confirmed her worst fears when he said he could see Zackary.

She said: ‘I heard a painful scream from the lorry driver, he was shouting ‘he’s here, your baby is here.’ I ran over and I found Zackary on the grass.

‘I knew instantly. I had to pick my dead baby up from the side of the road. I hugged him so tight, a hug I will never forget.’

Turning briefly to Anderson, who refused to lift his head to meet her gaze, she said: ‘You have left a broken shell of a woman and a childless mother.’

In mid air the infant was thrown from his seat and landed on the roadside verge on the opposite carriageway, eventually to be discovered by a lorry driver as his distraught mother was waving down oncoming traffic screaming ‘Zack, Zack.’

As she realised her son could not have survived the horror, Ms Warner was also told that her sister was dead in the passenger seat of the vehicle.

Anderson showed a shocking disregard for his actions, later caught on body worn camera footage telling police: ‘Everyone makes mistakes.’

Later at hospital he flirted with nurses and cracked jokes and accident investigators found an empty bottle of vodka in the wreckage of his vehicle.

When he later realised the enormity of his actions, Anderson made up a story that he’d picked up a mystery hitchhiker, who was driving the car at the time of impact.

Both cars had driven away from Newcastle International Airport in the early hours of May 31 this year, Karlene being picked up by Ms Warner after a holiday with Zackary ‘safely strapped into his car seat in the rear.’

Anderson was returning from Antalya where he had been on holiday with his wife – however his behaviour had been so bad that she had left him and flown home early.

The couple had not been married long, but when he collected the keys for his car from a car park attendant, Anderson told him: ‘I’m going to go to Bradford to find a new wife.’

He was told by Judge Joanne Kidd: ‘You played Russian roulette with the lives of every man, woman and child you passed on that journey.

‘The level of your intoxication, your aggressive and entitled driving, your speed and the use of your phone made it inevitable you would come into collision with another road user.

‘At a speed of 140 miles per hour, with your foot fully depressed on the accelerator you were inevitably going to cause serious injury and the probability of a fatality.’

Judge Kidd referred to the heartbreaking statement read to the court by Zackary’s mother as she described the horror of being unable to find him.

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Constable Natalie Horner, of Durham Constabulary’s Collision Investigation Unit, said: ‘As roads policing officers, we routinely ask people not to drive above the speed limit. 

‘We routinely ask people not to use their mobile phones while driving. And we routinely ask people not to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

‘Darryl Anderson was doing all three of those things when he collided with Shalorna Warner’s car, killing both passengers, Karlene and baby Zackary.

‘For his actions, Anderson has been sentenced to more than 17 years in prison, but it is his victims and their family who have been handed life sentences.

‘It is them 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?’

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