An eight-month-old baby and his auntie died of serious injuries sustained in a horror crash on the A1(M) last month.

Zackary Blades and 30-year-old Karlene Warner were travelling south in a Peugeot 308 on the A1(M) between Chester-le-Street and Durham when they were struck by an Audi Q5 in the early hours of Friday, May 31 morning.

They both died at the scene. A 38-year-old man was arrested and later charged with causing their deaths by dangerous driving.

He will appear before Durham Crown Court next week.

Inquests into Zackary and Karlene’s deaths were opened by Senior Coroner Jeremy Chipperfield at Crook Coroners’ Court on Tuesday (June 25), with the cause of death for each confirmed.

Crook Coroners' Court.Crook Coroners' Court.

The court heard baby Zackary, who lived in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, died of blunt head injuries.

Coroner’s officer Dawn Carter told the court: “I understand the circumstances to be that he was involved in a road traffic collision.

“On May 31 Dr Srinivas Annavarapu conducted a post-mortem examination at the Newcastle RVI Mortuary and gave the cause of death as blunt head injury.”

Zackary and Karlene.Zackary and Karlene. (Image: DURHAM POLICE)

In a second short hearing, the court heard Karlene, an air hostess, died of torso injuries.

Their inquests were adjourned while proceedings in the criminal courts are completed.

Recommended reading:

Get more from The Northern Echo with a digital subscription. Get access for 4 months for just £4, or get 40% off an annual subscription with our latest offer. Click here.

Rotherham man Darryl Anderson appeared before Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court on Monday, June 3 charged with two counts of causing death by dangerous driving. He is expected to enter a plea when he appears at Durham Crown Court on Monday (July 1).

In a statement, their families said previously: “I’m so sorry you never got to grow up. Our little Zack - mammy and daddy love you so much, you didn’t deserve any of this. You were such a happy, cheeky boy. I am so sorry this has happened - our hearts are truly broken. We will never forget you, you will always be in our hearts.”

Speaking about Karlene, they added: “You light up every room you walk into like the bright shining diamond that you were. You leave behind the most precious daughter in Everly, and she will know how amazing and special you were.”