The moment brazen drink-driver Darryl Anderson, who killed an eight-month-old boy and his aunt in a 140mph crash, tells police: ‘I’m not a bad person’

By Rory Tingle, Mailonline Home Affairs Correspondent

17:42 09 Jul 2024, updated 20:39 09 Jul 2024

A drunk driver told police “mistakes happen sometimes” after killing a baby and her aunt when he crashed into their car at 141mph moments after taking a photo of the speedometer.

Darryl Anderson, 38, failed to help mother Shalorna Warner frantically search for her son after eight-month-old Zackary Blades was thrown 160ft from his car, out of his crushed car seat and onto the opposite carriageway of the A1.

The horror crash between Chester-Le-Street and Durham at 3.15am on May 31 also killed Warner’s 30-year-old sister Karlene, a flight attendant.

Anderson showed shocking indifference to his actions, with a police body camera capturing him saying: “I rear-ended another car (sic). Sometimes mistakes are made, but I’m not a bad person.”

The killer driver, who was breathalysed and found to have three times the legal limit, continued his disgustingly callous behaviour in hospital, joking with nurses and telling jokes.

Killer driver Darryl Anderson was filmed telling police that “mistakes happen sometimes” after killing a baby and his aunt
An undated family photo of a smiling Zackary
Karlene Warner tragically died in the accident along with her young nephew.
Darryl Anderson, 38, was playing “Russian roulette” with the lives of other drivers when he killed Zackary Blades and the baby’s aunt, flight attendant Karlene Warner, 30.

A gruesome photo of Anderson’s wrecked Audi

Police at the scene of the crash on May 31, which took place between Chester-le-Street and Durham.

The moment Anderson was given a roadside breathalyzer test, which he failed.

“I will never see my loved ones again, but he will”: A mother’s heartbreaking statement

In her victim personal statement, Shalorna Warner said: “I knew instantly. I had to pick up my dead baby from the roadside. I hugged him so tightly, a hug I will never forget.

“There are no words that can fill the irreparable void that has been left in my heart and in my life. Zackary was my rainbow baby: he was the light at the end of the tunnel in a very dark time for me and he brought joy, happiness and laughter to my life.

“My baby’s future, my future, our life together, has been stolen from me. I will never see him look at me and smile again. I won’t have that luxury. Instead, every second of every day I replay 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 feel real; I feel like I’m living a nightmare.

“I will feel the consequences of this pain for the rest of my life. I don’t know if I will be able to overcome it. I am scarred, traumatized, and afraid to live my life.

‘The impact of these events will amplify the difficult times and overshadow any good times I may have, because Zackary and Karlene live in my heart, and I will never live a normal life without them.’

He added: “This is not my fault, it is the fault of the person who caused this endless agony. I hope the pain of this overwhelms them for all eternity.”

“Nothing will bring my son and sister back to me. The only way out for me is for the defendant to face the same sentence as me: life in prison. The irony of all this is that I will never see my loved ones again, but he will.”

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

However, Durham Crown Court heard he was so drunk and distracted he did not even notice the Peugeot 308 feet in front of him being driven by Ms Warner.

Wiping tears from her face, the devastated mother said she remembered the impact that sent her car spinning.

She looked to her left to see Karlene clearly badly injured in the passenger airbag, but she knew she had to try to help Zackary and called out to Karlene, “I’ll be back for you.”

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

“I couldn’t see my baby. I was standing in the rubble, picking up pieces of the car and throwing them away, trying to find him, but he wasn’t there. I screamed his name and called 999.

“I saw the other driver and ran up to him and said, ‘Help, I can’t find my baby.’ I was screaming, ‘Zack, Zack.’

“He didn’t help me, he never helped me. I started running into traffic waving my arms and yelling at cars to help me.”

On the opposite lane, a truck driver stopped and warned him not to run into traffic.

Mrs. Warner found Zackary’s car seat and turned it around, but discovered he was not in it. Then a shout from the truck driver confirmed her worst fears when he said he could see Zackary.

She said: ‘I heard a painful scream from the truck driver, he was screaming ‘he’s here, your baby’s here’. I ran over and found Zackary in the grass.

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

“There are no words that can fill the irreparable void that has been left in my heart and in my life. Zackary was my rainbow baby: he was the light at the end of the tunnel in a very dark time for me and he brought joy, happiness and laughter to my life.”

Addressing Anderson briefly, who refused to raise his head to look her in the eye, she said: “You have left behind a broken shell of a woman and a childless mother.”

In mid-air, the baby was thrown from his car seat and landed on the shoulder of the road in the oncoming lane, eventually being discovered by a truck driver as his distraught mother waved down oncoming traffic shouting “Zack, Zack.”

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

CCTV footage shows Anderson leaving the car park at Newcastle Airport

Zackary was catapulted 50 yards across the A1M between Chester-le-Street and Durham.
Shalorna Warner and Zackary’s father, Jack Blades

After the accident, Anderson told police: “We all make mistakes.” Pictured here is the scene after the tragedy

When he later realized the enormity of his actions, Anderson fabricated a story that he had picked up a mysterious hitchhiker, who was driving the car at the time of impact.

Both cars had left Newcastle International Airport in the early hours of May 31 this year, with Ms Warner collecting Karlene after a holiday with Zackary “securely strapped into her back seat”.

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

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

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

‘His level of intoxication, his aggressive and reckless driving, his speed and the use of his phone made it inevitable that he would collide with another road user.

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

Judge Kidd referred to the heartbreaking statement read to the court by Zackary’s mother as she described the horror of not being able to find him.

Zackary’s aunt, flight attendant Karlene Warner, also died in the horrific crash.
Mrs. Warner was a flight attendant and is shown here posing in the cockpit of an airplane.

Shalorna Warner told Karlene, “I’ll be back for you,” but was unable to reach her in time.

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

‘We systematically ask people not to use their mobile phones while driving and not to get behind the wheel while intoxicated.

‘Darryl Anderson was doing all three of those things when he crashed into 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 families who have been sentenced to life in prison.

‘They are the ones who will spend the rest of their lives mourning the loss of their son, their grandson, their wife, their sister and their mother. And for what?’

Heartbreaking photos of young Zackary provided by his devastated family

Zackary was described by his mother as a “rainbow baby.”