Northampton mum reveals how she discovered her daughter had died in car crash via Facebook
A Northampton mum-of-three has spoken of her pain, after 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.
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, five, and Taylia, 23, 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.
“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 get to her house, before breaking the news in her kitchen.
“He was devastated, couldn’t believe what I was telling him,” Deborah said.
“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.
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.”
In the weeks after Brogan’s death, Deborah says she was haunted by the horror of finding out about Brogan’s death online.
She continued: “I never thought this would happen to our family. Brogan was such a lovely, kind girl and now we don’t have her anymore and I’ve been left with so much pain.”
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 from multiple injuries as a result of the crash.
Their vehicle, being driven by Sam Jones, overturned after ploughing into the other driver's car and suffered "catastrophic damage," the court was told.
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.
"Fatigue, perhaps nodding off at the wheel, is a possibility or some kind of distraction either inside or outside the vehicle.”