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Heartbreaking Loss: A Tribute to Zackary Blades and Karlene Warner

A man has been arrested after a devastating collision on Friday, May 31, a young mother and her infant son lost their lives.

Eight-month-old Zackary Blades and 30-year-old Karlene Warner were travelling in a Peugeot 308 on the A1(M) between Chester-le-Street and Durham when tragedy struck. An Audi Q5 collided with their vehicle in the early hours of the morning, resulting in fatal injuries for both Zackary and Karlene.

Zackary’s mother, Shalorna Warner, was behind the wheel at the time of the accident. She sustained minor injuries and was taken to the hospital for treatment. Today, Shalorna and Zackary’s father, Jack Blades, pay tribute to their beloved son.

“We are absolutely heartbroken to announce the tragic death of our beautiful son, Zackary,” they said. “Though we only had you in our arms for eight months, you brought immeasurable happiness to our lives. We shared countless precious moments as a family during that time—memories that will forever be etched in our hearts. Thank you for giving us the best Christmas and holiday together.”

Zackary was an active and joyful baby. He started crawling early, relished his food, and even began saying “mama.” His top teeth had just come through, and he delighted in climbing the stairs, always laughing mischievously. He was on the cusp of standing up on his own—a milestone he never got to achieve.

“Our little Zack—mammy and daddy love you so much,” Shalorna expressed. “You didn’t deserve any of this. You were such a happy, cheeky boy. Our hearts ache, and we will never forget you.”

The pain extends beyond Zackary. The family also remembers Karlene Warner, who leaves behind her daughter, Everly. Karlene’s loss is felt deeply by those who knew her.

“How do we put into words the void left by their absence?” Shalorna wondered. “We miss you so much, and we always will. Rest in peace, our gorgeous little boy, Zackary William Blades. And Karlene, may you find eternal peace as well.”

The 38-year-old man was arrested at the scene of the collision. He has since been charged with causing death by dangerous driving and possession of a bladed article.

He appeared at Newton Aycliffe Magistrates’ Court this morning.

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