Young mother dies as father saves son in pushchair in West Hampstead crash
18:07 13 November 2012
The best friend of a young mother who died in a crash as her husband pushed their baby son out of the path of a car has paid tribute to her as “the nicest, coolest, most down-to-earth” person he knew.
Zac Schwarz was having dinner with 33-year-old mother Desreen Brooks, her husband Ben Dutton, and their two-year-old son, Jackson, moments before she died outside his house on a quiet section of road in West End Lane, West Hampstead.
Mr Schwarz, who had known Desreen for 15 years, said that “two minutes” after saying goodbye at about 8.30pm on Saturday night (November 10), he heard the crash outside their window and rushed out of the house.
The 32-year-old, who is a director of a PR company, said: “My understanding is that the car was coming towards them and Ben moved his son out of the way but Desreen was behind them.”
Desreen died after the collision, when a Mercedes drove down the quiet road and crashed into a brick wall.
Her husband managed to push their son Jackson out of the way in time, and the two survived.
Another pedestrian Amy Werner, a 23-year-old American student, was also injured in the crash and was taken to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington in a critical condition.
The 83-year-old male driver of the car was still in hospital on Tuesday (November 13) but his condition was not life threatening.
Mr Dutton said that the last thing Desreen said was how proud she was of their son, Jackson.
He explained: “I want to say how wonderful Desreen’s life was, and how happy she was in the weeks before she died.
“Her very last comment was about how proud she was of her son, Jackson.”
He added: “I’d also like to say how touched I have been by the kindness of strangers who have shown their love through the candles, cards and flowers, left at the scene.”
Mr Schwarz, who flew back from a round-the-world trip to attend Desreen’s wedding last year, said they had enjoyed a lovely evening before the tragedy.
“We went to university together,” he said. “She’s my best friend, and I’m her son’s godfather.
“We spent the day in West Hampstead at the art cafe and then we were cooking to welcome some friends home from Canada.
“We were having a lovely evening.
“They were going back to get the train and we said goodbye to her and then two minutes later I heard it.”
He added: “You never think, when you ask someone to be a godfather that you’ll actually be called on to do that.”
Desreen owned an artist’s management company with a friend and worked organising shoots for magazines like Vogue.
Mr Schwarz explained: “She spent her day with high fashion people and she was as happy sorting out her friends for magazine covers, as she was going to visit my parents in deepest, darkest Essex and pushing the pushchair in the mud.”
But he added that she could also be “quite dappy” recalling their day painting pottery at an art shop in West End Lane.
“She was painting a white pot, white, and we told her she didn’t need to paint a white pot, white!”
He added: “To have someone so creative and flamboyant, that was her great strength. She was such a good friend.”
No arrests have been made and the investigation into the crash is ongoing.
Police are appealing for witnesses to get in contact on 020 8842 1817.