Drunken driver who snapped photo going 141 mph before deadly collision imprisoned for 17 years

By The Canadian Press

Published 12:37 PDT, Tue July 9, 2024

LONDON (AP) — Darryl Anderson was drunk behind the wheel of his Audi SUV, had his accelerator pressed to the floor and was barreling toward a car ahead of him when he snapped a photo of his speedometer. The picture showed a car in the foreground, a collision warning light on his dashboard and a speed of 141 mph (227 kph).

An instant later, he slammed into the car in the photo. The driver, Shalorna Warner, was not seriously injured but her 8-month-old son and her sister were killed instantly, authorities said. Evidence showed Anderson never braked. 

Anderson, 38, was sentenced Tuesday to 17 years in prison for the May 31 crash in northern England that killed little Zackary Blades and Karlene Warner. Anderson pleaded guilty last week in Durham Crown Court to two counts of causing death by dangerous driving.

Shalorna Warner told the court that she remembered her Peugeot spinning, seeing her sister gravely injured and, when the car came to a rest, frantically trying to find her son, who had been ejected from the vehicle by the impact. A trucker who had stopped to help found him on the other side of the highway.

“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," Warner said. “No words will surmount the irreparable hole that has been left in my heart and in my life."

Anderson lied to police, saying a hitchhiker was driving at the time of the crash.

Prosecutor Emma Dowling said a roadside breath test showed Anderson was nearly three times over the limit driving after drinking. An empty vodka bottle was found in his car.

Witnesses later reported that he had been driving dangerously for 20 miles (32 kilometers) and his phone showed he had been sending text messages. 

At a police station, he told officers he had driven into the back of a car. 

“Sometimes mistakes happen," he said. "But I’m not a bad person.”

Judge Joanne Kidd, who banned Anderson from driving for 21 years after he is released from prison, said he played Russian roulette and the crash was inevitable.

Defense lawyer Richard Dawson said Anderson, who was married with a daughter, was “profoundly sorry.”

Durham Detective Constable Natalie Horner said the police routinely remind drivers not to speed, use their phones behind the wheel and drive drunk. 

“Darryl Anderson was doing all three of those things," Horner said. “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."

– Brian Melley, The Associated Press

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