Don't be put off gap years, parents say after Ecuador crash

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The Independent Online

Moving tributes were paid yesterday to the four British students and their tour guide killed in Saturday evening's crash in Ecuador.

Last night details of the trip became clearer, providing an insight into how a group of ambitious, bright young women came to lose their lives.

The students were a fortnight into a four-month Inca and Amazon Venture trip. Having completed a Spanish course in Quito, the group was travelling to the fishing village of Puerto Lopez to help build sanitation for a crèche. After an eight-hour trip, they were just half an hour from their destination, near Jipijapa, when a truck loaded with sand smashed into the side of the coach in fog. The truck driver was said to have fled.

Becci Logie, 19; Indira Swann, 18; Lizzie Pincock, 19; Emily Sadler, 19 and Sarah Howard, 26, were killed. Twelve companions, a French traveller and their local guide and driver, were injured.

"I was asleep, as were most of the people," said a survivor named only as Sara. "I just remember a big bang and the whole bus shook and everything stopped."

Ms Logie, who had hoped to become a fashion journalist, had worked in a delicatessen in Manchester to save for her trip. She had planned to read English at King's College London.

Her mother, Jane, said she was "very adventurous". She added: "She was a very high achiever and she was looking forward to university. She was popular and always had lots of friends."

Becci's 17-year-old sister, Emily, said she had received details of her own gap year in South Africa on the same weekend her sister had died, and still had every intention of going. "I always looked up to her so I still want to do it and for her sake I will."

In a Facebook tribute to her, Becci's friend, Rachel Kidd, wrote: "A beautiful person, a person who had so much potential, was going to blow the world away. Forever will I remember you."

Tributes to others filled pages of social networking websites. Ms Swann's boyfriend, Harry Felton, 19, who was travelling in Laos, simply wrote: "I love you."

Her parents, Gregory and Louise, also urged other young adults to enjoy travelling abroad, adding: "We have no regrets about her going, other than the final outcome. She was a joy to be around. We were so proud of her, she was her own person, she was independent and she did the travel with our full blessing. It is one of the best educations you can have. I would say to any student with the means to travel, do so. Life is a risk. Let's celebrate the opportunities she has had, and taken, and look at the positive things for the future."

The couple, who were at a wedding in Italy when news of the crash broke, returned home to Maidenhead to discover an email from the teenager in which she confessed to having her nose pierced and thanked them for giving her the confidence to make the trip. The day before she died she had spoken to her sister, Elizabeth, 21, who said: "She was so excited telling me what she had been doing, I could not get a word in edgeways."

Speaking of her own daughter, Jill Pincock said: "Lizzie always gave 110 per cent and her enthusiasm and great zest for life shone a light on to everyone she met ... We take great comfort from the fact she was likely to be asleep when it happened. While we have a huge aching hole in our hearts, we know as usual she was making the most of everything that came her way." The teenager had recently left Taunton School, where headmaster Dr John Newton said she had been a distinguished, gifted pupil with "an exceptional future before her".

Emily Sadler's family explained that she had worked as a swimming teacher to help raise the £5,645 for the trip and planned to study history at Manchester University. Her parents, Graham and Kay, and four sisters and brothers from Hertfordshire, who last spoke to her on Wednesday, said: "She was a beautiful, bubbly girl with her whole life ahead of her. Her loss is indescribable."

Sarah Howard had been planning on settling down, having earned a place on a NHS management training scheme, said her parents, Peter and Pam, from Cheshire. She had previously helped to set up a charity for street children in Peru.

"Sarah was a beautiful, intelligent, kind and caring person with a tremendous love of life," they added.

Yesterday the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that only four of the 12 injured Britons remained in hospital in Quito, having suffered broken bones, concussion and cuts.

The gap-year travel specialist VentureCo defended its "unblemished record" during nine years of providing trips to the area and said it was launching its own inquiry. A representative was flying out to Ecuador yesterday to meet the survivors.

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