A DEVOTED couple killed on a French road died in a motorcycle accident, an inquest heard.
Keen bikers Malcolm and Beverley Hagan were travelling home to Sunderland from France when the accident happened on September 3.
Mr Hagan, who was riding the bike, died instantly, while his 53-year-old wife was thrown from the machine and suffered a fractured skull.
It was initially thought that Mr Hagan had suffered a heart attack before the accident but Home Officer pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton told a hearing that was unlikely, although the father-of-one did have heart disease.
She concluded the fact he had swung the bike to the left showed he was conscious and able to take evasive action.
She added: “There was no medical disease that would have caused him to lose control of his vehicle.
“There was some heart disease but no evidence it was symptomatic.”
Tests showed Mr Hagan, 56, was at the UK drink-drive limit, but the alcohol in his blood is thought to have been due to changes in the body after death.
French authorities are still investigating the cause of the crash, near Nancy in Northern France, where the couple had been to the annual Pan Gathering of The Northern Pan Riders.
No other vehicles were thought to be involved and there were no suspicious circumstances.
The couple, of Estuary Way, South Hylton, were together for 37 years and had one daughter, Gemma Hagan-McGrandle, 32.
Malcolm, a former squadron sergeant major, served in the Army for 25 years, including in Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf War.
Speaking to the Echo at the time, Mr Hagan’s sister Lynne, 59, said: “The only comfort that we can take from what happened is that they went quickly together. There was no pain, no anguish, and that is what we are focusing on.
“Gemma was their only child and she has been amazingly strong in these difficult times.
“Now, we just want to protect her.”
Donations in lieu of flowers at the funeral raised more than £735 in aid of Help For Heroes.
Assistant coroner Andrew Hetherington recorded a conclusion of accidental death.