Backpacker died in India road horror
ABACKPACKER from Bramhall died in India after she and her friend came off a motorbike and fell into the path of an oncoming lorry, an inquest heard.
Hannah Whitley, 23, and Daniel Bulgacs, 39, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, were thrown from the hired vehicle on a sharp left-hand bend on a two-lane country road in Goa on December 22 last year.
Fellow Briton Gary Powell was following them at the time on his own 350cc bike, but lost sight of the pair as he approached the bend.
Stockport Coroners’ Court heard Mr Powell could not see his friends and was knocked unconscious as he could not avoid crashing into the back of the bike.
When he recovered, he found Ms Whitley and Mr Bulgacs had died at the scene from blunt trauma injuries.
Mr Powell was unable to say where both were located at the time of impact, the inquest was told.
Coroner Chris Morris said Mr Powell’s statement was the best evidence available to the court as a criminal investigation by the Indian authorities into the lorry driver’s alleged rash and negligent driving is ongoing.
The probe could take up to four years to conclude, the court heard.
Ms Whitley and Mr Bulgacs met in Goa while on separate Far East breaks, with the pair also meeting Mr Powell, who lives in India for part of the year.
The trio went on a ride to an old Portuguese fort, with Ms Whitley riding pillion on Mr Powell’s bike and experienced motorcyclist Mr Bulgacs hiring a similar vehicle.
However, on the return journey Ms Whitley was on the front of the hire motorbike with Mr Bulgacs ‘most likely’ training her on how to ride.
Mr Powell said he assumed the pair would only ride a short distance, but later saw them go over a speed bump and nearly lose control.
He said he told them they were being ‘stupid,’ but he added Ms Whitley seemed happy to ride the bike as they continued on.
Giving evidence, Sascha Whitley said his daughter was ‘living the dream’ travelling after she quit her job and was planning to return to the UK in the summer to continue her career.
He said: “She had just qualified as a chartered accountant a few months before she went. Everyone loved her at work, she was brilliant at her job.
“She was fun loving. She was living her dream at that point.”
Mr Whitley said he was in contact with his daughter every day after she left the UK with a friend on December 12 as they planned to also visit Vietnam and Thailand.
Mr Bulgacs’s mother, Christine Wainwright, told the inquest her son was a ‘lad’s lad’ who liked going to festivals and was seen as a ‘free spirit.’
She said he too had left home earlier in December and had planned to go on to Cambodia and Thailand.
She said her son, who ran his own successful business trading on eBay, owned a motorbike and had driving qualifications from his time in the Army.
Mrs Wainwright said: “He loved travelling. He said India was amazing and he had met some really nice people.”
Mr Morris recorded that Ms Whitley and Mr Bulgacs died as a result of a road traffic collision.
●●Hannah Whitley, who was killed in a motorbike crash in Goa