Northampton mum discovered her daughter had died in car crash via Facebook

Deborah and her daughter Brogan, who died in a car accident last year.
Deborah and her daughter Brogan, who died in a car accident last year.

A Northampton mum-of-three has spoken of her shock at discovering her daughter had died in a car accident, via Facebook's news feed.

Deborah Byrne, 47, from Northampton, was having a cup of tea and browsing the social network site on May 23 last year, when she saw a memorial tribute to her 21-year-old daughter Brogan Warren.

Brogan warren.

Brogan warren.

Scrolling through her news feed, she then saw more and more messages.

One friend had written “Gone too soon” while another had said “I can’t believe the news.”

“I just remember seeing lots of RIP messages,” Deborah, also mum to Tianna and Taylia said. “Then a friend of Brogan’s wrote to me “I’m so sorry” in a private message, so I asked what the hell she was talking about.

“She said there had been a horrific crash the night before [on May 22] and she would be there for me. That’s when I started screaming. The penny had dropped.

Brogan Warren.

Brogan Warren.

“At that moment my heart shattered.”

Frantic for more information, Deborah called her sister, Tricia, where Tianna had been staying overnight.

Deborah had called Brogan's dad, Joff, who she separated from 16 years ago, to say he needed to come to her house, before breaking the news in her kitchen.

“He was devastated, couldn’t believe what I was telling him,” Deborah said.

Brogan Warren.

Brogan Warren.

“We were desperately trying to get hold of the Northamptonshire Police to get official confirmation of what had happened. But because the crash had happened in Oxfordshire, 45 miles away, Brogan’s name wasn’t coming up on our local police’s system.

“I couldn’t believe I’d found out about my daughter’s death on Facebook.”

Finally, at 1pm on May 23, an officer from Thames Valley Police – the force which covers Oxfordshire – confirmed Brogan had died, following a head-on crash on the A40 Shrivenham bypass in Oxfordshire at 11.15pm.

Three of her friends, Sam Jones, 23, Nicoletta Tocco, 25, and Sam Kay, 26, had also died in the smash involving the Citroen Saxo, driven by Sam Jones, and a Mercedes being driven by a man from Swindon, Wiltshire.

Brogan Warren.

Brogan Warren.

He was hospitalised, along with his wife and three-year-old child.

Brogan and her friends had been travelling back from a vegan festival in Bristol.

Deborah continued: “At 8pm on the Sunday night [the night of the crash] Brogan texted me and said they’d be driving back soon, so, with Tianna staying with my sister, I took advantage and had an early night.

“When I heard no more from Brogan, I wasn’t worried. I assumed her phone battery had died and she’d stopped off at someone’s house.”

The police had actually visited Deborah's house at 5am, after the crash, but had not managed to wake her.

She said: “I didn’t blame anyone, but it compounded my heartache. “The police said they’d knocked at my door in the early hours, but couldn’t raise me.

“I recall hearing the dog barking, but didn't think anything of it.”

Brogan's funeral was on June 7 at St Aiden’s Church in Northampton, the same place where Brogan had been christened 19 years earlier.

“After they laid her body in the ground, everyone poured flowers and glitter onto her coffin. She was such a free-spirit, it’s what she would have wanted,” her mum continued.

“But I didn’t want to think of it as a funeral, more as a festival of her life.”

An inquest in November 2016 in Oxford heard how Sam Kay, 26, from Crawley, West Sussex, Sam Jones, 23, Nicoletta, 25, and Brogan, 21, who all had links to Northampton, died.

Their vehicle, being driven by Sam Jones, overturned after hitting into the other driver's car.

Oxfordshire coroner Darren Salter recorded conclusions of road traffic collision.

He said: "It simply isn't possible to say (what happened) but it does seem likely that either driver fatigue or driver distraction seemed most likely potential causes."