Mum’s haunting plea when she couldn’t find her baby after deadly drunk driver crash

A traumatised mother has recalled the heartbreaking moment[1] her baby was thrown more than 100m across the motorway in a fatal crash.

Little Zackary Blades was just eight months old when he tragically died after a shameless drunk driver smashed into his mum’s car[2] at 141mph. Shalorna Warner, 26, who had been driving her Peugeot, said she knew instantly her child was dead. Darryl Anderson, 38, was jailed on Tuesday for 17 years and three months for killing both the tot and his aunt, Karlene Warner, 30.

Grieving Ms Warner bravely stood in court and recounted the gut-wrenching moment[3] her life changed forever. Addressing Anderson, she told him she “will never live a normal life again” and is now a “broken childless mother”. Anderson was three times over the limit when he got in his Audi Q5 and drove home from Newcastle Airport after behaving “erratically”.

Heartbroken mum recalls hug she’ll ‘never forget’ after picking up baby flung 100m to death in A1 crash[4]
Zackary Blades
Zackary Blades was eight months old when he was tragically killed in the crash (
Zackary Blades
His mum Sharlona was screaming ‘Zack, Zack’ and pleading for help to find her baby (
Durham Police)

The deadly crash[5] happened between Chester-le-Street and Durham around 3.15am and sent Ms Warner’s car spinning. Standing in court, wiping tears from her eyes, she remembered turning to her left to see her sister badly injured in the passenger airbag and promising her: “I will come back for you”, as she rushed to help her son.

“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,” Ms Warner said. “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[6]. I began running up to the traffic waving my arms and screaming at cars to help me.” On the opposite side of the road, a lorry driver pulled over and warned her not to run towards the traffic as he helped search.

“I heard a painful scream from the lorry driver crying: ‘Oh no, he’s here – your baby’s here’. I jumped over to find my baby lying on the edge of the grass of the motorway. I knew instantly. I had to pick my dead baby up from the side of the road,” she said. “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.”

Karlene Warner
Zackary’s aunt Karlene Warner was also devastatingly killed by the dangerous driver (
Darryl Anderson
Darryl Anderson was three times over the limit and filmed his speedometer before (

Describing her beautiful baby boy, Ms Warner said: “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.”

Turning to Judge Joanne Kidd, she implored her to sentence her child’s killer to life. She said: “Your Honour, I stand before you today a broken shell of a woman and a childless mother. But 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.

Darryl Anderson
Anderson lied to police in his interview and claimed he picked up a hitchhiker, who he let drive (

“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.” Anderson, of Thorpe Hesley, South Yorkshire, was banned from driving for 21 and a half years and sentenced to 17 years and three months.

Judge Kidd said Anderson landed at Newcastle Airport and had drunk a “significant” amount of alcohol on the flight, but picked up his car and intended to drive it back to Yorkshire, a journey of around 200 miles. He began driving at 2.39am with the collision at 3.17am – he had drove around 20 miles and was driving in a “thoroughly dangerous and intoxicated manner” over the Felling Bypass.

He sent chilling Whatsapp[7] messages during the drive, and seconds before the fatal crash took a screenshot of his speedometer. “It is a chilling image. At the centre of the console is a warning sign, displaying a warning of impending obstacle. That obstacle was the Peugoet driven by Shalorna,” the judge said.

“I do not know why you took that picture[8]… whatever the situation your attention had been further distracted from your driving. Your accelerator pedal was fully depressed at the time of impact. Driving at 141mph. The photos of the scene are the stuff of nightmares.” Ms Warner, from Northern Ireland, sustained minor injuries before being taken to hospital for treatment.

Zackary's mother and Karlene's sister, Shalorna Warner, 26, was driving the Peugeot 308 when it was struck
Zackary’s mother and Karlene’s sister, Shalorna Warner, 26, was driving the Peugeot 308 when it was struck (
North News & Pictures Ltd

Karlene was due to start a career as a cabin crew member and had flown into Newcastle Airport[9] before being picked up by Shalorna. That same night, Anderson had flown into the same airport from Antalya after behaving “erratically” with his wife and returning to the UK on his own. The crash destroyed Ms Warner’s Peugeot, with the back of the vehicle being completely crumpled in.

Anderson’s Audi had rolled to the hard shoulder and debris was found on a nearby verge, including an empty bottle of vodka, the court heard. When police arrived Anderson said he was “sorry” for crashing into the Peugeot. He was breath tested and was found to be over the alcohol limit.

The court heard that Anderson also appeared uninjured, but was taken to hospital where he refused a blood test claiming to have a fear of needles, despite having tattoos. He then provided a urine sample which confirmed he was over the limit. He concocted a false story in a police interview when he claimed he picked up a hitchhiker, who he let drive[10].

Shalorna Warner
Mum Shalorna bravely recalled the moment she picked Zack up in her arms and hugged him (
Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

In a new audio clip of the interview, he is heard saying that the mystery driver in gloves had asked for a lift before he invited him to drive the vehicle, because he was “knackered” from the flight. He claimed he fell asleep soon after he started the car, and only woke up at the moment of the crash[11].

When asked why there was no passenger seatbelt in place, he told officers the hitchhiker had “wrapped it around himself”. Anderson later dropped the fake story and went on to plead guilty. Harrowing victim impact statements were read to the court from family members. Shalorna and Karlene’s father, Nigel Warner, described Anderson as a “wild man driving a killing machine”.

In a second victim statement, Karlene’s husband, Kieran, demanded Anderson look at him from the dock. Anderson’s eyes remained fixed to the floor, with Karlene’s husband shouting “coward” at him. The court heard Anderson had 10 previous convictions for 12 offences, including drink driving, assaulting an emergency worker, and battery. He was also stopped in Sheffield around a week before the fatal crash and warned about his driving.


  1. ^ heartbreaking moment (
  2. ^ smashed into his mum’s car (
  3. ^ gut-wrenching moment (
  4. ^ Heartbroken mum recalls hug she’ll ‘never forget’ after picking up baby flung 100m to death in A1 crash (
  5. ^ deadly crash (
  6. ^ he never helped (
  7. ^ Whatsapp (
  8. ^ took that picture (
  9. ^ Newcastle Airport (
  10. ^ drive (
  11. ^ crash (