Brit backpacker, 23, killed riding motorcycle for first time in Goa

A British woman was killed alongside a travelling companion in a head-on road smash in Goa as she rode a motorcycle for the first time.

Hannah Whitley was learning how to ride the bike as experienced rider Daniel Bulgacs, 38, guided her from the pillion seat.

An inquest heard the 23-year-old had wanted to learn and appeared to be enjoying herself before tragedy struck.

The backpackers’ vehicle ploughed into an oncoming truck and they both died as a result of their injuries.

The pair had met just days before and were on a sightseeing tour of the popular tourist spot of Canacona.

A third Brit, named as 72-year-old Gary Powell, was treated in hospital after being knocked off his bike in the crash.

Hannah and Daniel had been visiting a landmark close to the popular resort in India.

Hannah said she wanted to drive the hired moped so that she could hire one herself on her future travels.

But the hearing was told their families may not know exactly what happened to them or who was responsible for the collision for "years" because of ongoing criminal proceedings in India.

It was reported the driver of the truck was arrested and charged with dangerous driving.

Hannah, from Bramhall in Stockport, Greater Manchester, had just qualified as a chartered accountant, before setting off on her dream holiday with her best friend Hayley on December 12 last year.

Former soldier Daniel, from Halifax, Yorkshire, ran a successful business trading goods on eBay, but left his brother in charge of the company so he could go travelling.

Hannah and her friend met up with Gary Powell, a fellow Brit who spent half his time in India and half in the UK.

Daniel had also met Gary, who owns motorcycles in India and the UK, through backpacking friends.

Last December 22, the three backpackers set off from Goa to visit a Portuguese fort on the outskirts of the resort.

Recalling the day of the tragedy, Gary told the Stockport hearing: "Daniel told us he had hired a bike and wanted to go on a ride the next day.

"This time Hayley did not go with us, Dan said he was an experienced rider and we decided to ride to an old Portuguese fort.

"Hannah was wearing some kind of motorcycle helmet, we arrived and spent some time waking the fort.

"When we were leaving, I saw Hannah get on the front of the bike and Dan sit behind her as if teaching her how to ride, I watched them ride off down the road.

"I assumed he was just letting her have a ride of the bike and they would go a short distance and come back. I caught up with them then they went ahead of me.

"A few miles down the road I was behind them when I watched them go over a speed bump.

"I stopped and said they were being stupid because of the dangers of the road. Hannah seemed to be enjoying herself and was happy to ride that way.

"The road turned a sharp bend, as I came around a corner I was suddenly confronted with their bike leaning heavily on the left.

"I cannot honestly say I can remember seeing where they were, I had to crash into their bike.

"I can recall other traffic coming in the other direction. I went unconscious for a short while.

"When I came round I stood up and saw there was a group of other people gathered around a large lorry facing the opposite direction we were travelling."

Hannah’s father Sascha Whitley told the Stockport hearing: "She was living her dream at that point, having spent three or four years working hard training to be an accountant.

"Everyone at work loved her, she worked really hard. She was just a great daughter.

"Originally she planned to go travelling in the Far East eight or nine months and then go to Australia and work in accountancy there.

"But in the last few months before she left she was getting a lot of requests from businesses here for work, so she thought she would go to India, Thailand and Vietnam for around eight months then come back here to work."

He added: "I had contact with her everyday. I would get photographs of her waking up on a sleeper train she got and photos of her eating various Asian foods.

"I spoke to her on 21st, she said she was loving Goa and how brilliant it was."

Daniel’s mother Christine Wainwright told the hearing how her son loved travelling and was known as a "free-spirit".

She said: "He was very hard working. He was a very loving son, very untidy, very messy, a lads lad. He liked to go to festivals, you could almost call him a free spirit."

The coroner has been informed by Foreign and Commonwealth officers that proceedings can take years to resolve but families of both Hannah and Daniel agreed that the inquest should resume.

Recording a conclusion of road traffic collision, coroner Chris Morris said: "Hannah has been described as a fun-loving and kind person who excelled in her work, she travelled to Goa to live her dream and go travelling in the Far East.

"Daniel was a successful man who had built up his own business, he was a loving son.

"Hannah and Daniel who had met and become friends whilst in Goa, had met up with another Brit Gary Powell.

"Mr Powell travelled to the fort on his own bicycle, with Hannah travelling as a passenger. Daniel, as an experienced driver, hired a similar machine.

"On the way back, Hannah and Daniel rode the same bike and Hannah drove with the intention that Daniel would teach her how to ride. Tragedy struck in the course of that return journey.

"Whilst the limitation make it difficult to recall precisely what was occurred, the best evidence comes from Gary Powell. "

He added: "What is clear is that both Hannah and Daniel are both terribly missed and have left large voids for family and friends."

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