Son recalls devastating moment he learnt mum and stepdad had died in Durham A1(M) crash

A son who lost his mother and stepdad in a horror A1 crash has recalled receiving the devastating call from 99 services telling him that his loved ones had died. On July 15, 2021, couple Elaine Sullivan and David Dalglish, from Seaham, were killed when lorry driver Ion Onut, 42, ploughed into them. He smashed his Scania truck into slow-moving traffic on the northbound carriageway of the A1, near Bowburn, while using the internet on his phone.   

Forensic examinations of his mobile phone found that Onut, of Galashiels, in Scotland, had been repeatedly using the device’s web browser throughout his journey from Cambridgeshire right up until the time of the collision, which happened at 6.18pm. Read more: Police officers recall ‘horror’ A1(M) Durham crash that killed three  A year on from the horror crash, which also killed Paul Mullen from Washington, a hard-hitting film by Durham Police on the A1(M) incident has been made, which features moving interviews with Onut, several witnesses, police officers who attended the scene, and Junior Sullivan, whose parents, Elaine Sullivan, and David Daglish, died in the collision.

Within the programme, Mr Sullivan recounted the “devastating” moment he found out his mum and stepdad had been killed. The Northern Echo: Junior Sullivan./ppPicture: DURHAM POLICEJunior Sullivan. Picture: DURHAM POLICE After describing mum Elaine as “Small, five foot nothing – strong-willed, strong-minded – strong in general,” he went on to describe the impact that his parents had on his life before they died, saying “she brought me up until the age of seven on her own until she met my dad, my stepdad – who took me on as his own and gave me the keys to the world.”

He added: “He took me on holiday, took me to football games and did everything you’d want from a dad.” The Northern Echo: David Dalglish and Elaine Sullivan./ppPicture: DURHAM POLICEDavid Dalglish and Elaine Sullivan. Picture: DURHAM POLICE Recalling the moments he found out that his parents had been taken from him, Mr Sullivan told the programme: “My wife came in 5/6 in the morning – she handed me the phone and at the other end of the phone, they told me that my mum had been involved in a car crash and had died and then told me that my dad had also been killed.

“It’s bad – you don’t know if you’ve never had to go through the process before – to plan funerals and stuff and deal with it how you deal with it – there’s not a right or wrong answer, you’ve just got to muddle on.” The Northern Echo: Junior Sullivan and Elaine Sullivan./ppPicture: DURHAM POLICEJunior Sullivan and Elaine Sullivan. Picture: DURHAM POLICE Turning his attention to Onut, who is currently in jail for the death of his parents and Mullen, he says that he believes the lorry driver “didn’t go out to kill people on that day,” but mentions the use of a mobile phone as being the ‘overwhelming’ factor.

He added: “He used his mobile phone – that’s frustrating. It makes no difference in the grand scheme of things, it won’t bring them back but he’s in prison now and he’s got to think of it every day and got a wife and child. “His daughter has to live with the fact that her dad has taken three lives by something completely avoidable.

“The only way to change is to teach people about the dangers and the impact on people’s lives – it can happen to anyone.”  

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