Woman dies as husband saves son in West Hampstead collision
16:12 13 November 2012
Tributes have been paid to a “down to earth” woman who died in a collision in West Hampstead as her husband pushed their two-year-old son out of the way of a car.
Desreen Brooks, 33, and her husband Ben Dutton had been having dinner with their friend Zac Schwarz, the godfather of their two-year-old son Jackson, moments before the crash outside Mr Schwarz’s home in West End Lane on Saturday night.
Mr Schwarz said: “We were having a lovely evening, and they were going back to get their train home. We said goodbye and then two minutes later, I heard it.
“My understanding is that the car was coming towards them and Ben moved his son out of the way but Desreen was behind them.”
The accident happened just before 8.40pm, and Ms Brooks was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Dutton said that the last thing his wife said was how proud she was of their son.
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.
“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.”
A second woman, Amy Werner, was also hit by the car. The 23-year-old, an American student studying in England, was taken to hospital where she remains in a critical but stable condition.
Mr Schwarz went to art college with Ms Brooks, who lived in East Dulwich, and the two had been friends for 15 years.
Last year, Mr Schwarz and his wife, Laura, flew back from a trip around the world to attend the wedding of their friends.
Earlier on the day of the crash Mr Schwarz and Ms Brooks were painting ceramics at Art 4 Fun, in West End Lane.
Mr Schwarz said that Ms Brooks, who established and owned an artists’ management company and worked organising shoots for magazines like Vogue was the most “down to earth person”.
He 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 the deepest, darkest of Essex and pushing the pushchair in the mud.”
But he added that she could also be “quite dappy,” recalling the pot she had painted earlier that day at an art café in West Hampstead.
“She was painting a white pot, white, and we told her we told her she didn’t need to paint a white pot white!”
Mr Schwarz spent the day with Jackson at the art shop just down the road from his home, and the families had gone back to his flat that evening to cook a welcome home dinner for some friends.
Mr Schwarz added: “You never think, when you ask someone to be a godfather that you’ll actually be called on to do that.”
Witnesses said the old Mercedes, driven by an elderly man, sped down the road and slammed into a wall.
An 83-year-old man has been treated for minor injuries.
No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.
Police are appealing for witnesses to call them on 020 8842 1817.