Mum Who Lost Gap-Year Daughter Offers to Talk to Stricken Families Who Face Similar Heartache; 'The Families Will Be like Zombies and Face a Long Journey to Bring Loved Ones Back'

Article excerpt

Byline: Sally Williams

THE Ecuador crash in which five young British girls died has brought back horrific memories for the mother of a Welsh student killed on her gap year.

Becca Owen, 22, from Llanfechain, near Welshpool, Powys, was on a round-the-world trip with Teaching and Projects Abroad, after completing her Ancient History and Archaeology degree and had stopped off in Mexico to study turtles.

She died of head injuries when the black sedan-style car - designed to carry nine passengers but which was carrying 12 volunteers-pitched off a hairpin bend and fell 25 metres down a cliff-face about 11pmon February 13, 2005, in the state of Jalisco.

An inquest in Welshpool was told in November 2005 that the driver of the car carrying volunteers returning from a late-night bat watching trip in Mexico had probably fallen asleep at the wheel before the vehicle plunged into a ravine, killing Becca and her friend Chloe Taylor, 21, from Kent.

Becca's mother Sally Owen, and father Jonathon yesterday said they could understand more than most what the families of the five British tourists who died in Ecuador are going through.

Mrs Owen said: "This tragedy has brought all those feelings back.

"These girls were 18, even younger than Becca was, and they were just children really.

"The families will probably be in deep shock, like zombies and the yare likely to be facing a long journey to South America to bring their loved ones back.

"It is a journey that no parent should face, even in their wildest dreams.

"And if they have other young children they will be forced to leave them at a time when they need them most.

"It is absolutely horrendous but we had to go rather than wait three weeks for Becca to be returned.

"They might feel that there are many questions they want answering although they might never find the answers.

"We realise that accidents do happen.

"But I think that the Government should step in and demand gap year travel companies that make big profits are subject to the same safety regulations that regular travel companies have to adhere to in future.

"And it should lay down ground rules for the vehicles used for transporting all gap year volunteers abroad.

"Travelling the world is a wonderful thing and no-one wants to take that away from anyone.

"But you can't personally check every vehicle that your child gets into, however much you would like to."

Before leaving onher gapyear, Becca left birthday presents in advance for her parents and sister Daisy, now 22, brother Oliver, 20, and a young sister Florence, seven.

Mrs Owen added: "I think I will try to contact the families involved through the British Embassy because they may be feeling, like we were, that they are in so much shock that they don't know where to turn. …