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14 June 2013, 07:13
A mum-of-two from Northamptonshire has been killed in a car crash in Siberia while taking part in a vintage car rally.
Emma Wilkinson, 46, was killed in a head-on collision between her 1970 Chevrolet C10 and a Volkswagen Polo, according to local police.
Ms Wilkinson was taking part in the Peking (Beijing) to Paris Motor Challenge, described as the longest and toughest challenge anyone can drive in a vintage or classic car.
She was with her partner and fellow participant Peter Davies when the accident occurred on the Tyumen to Omsk federal highway on Wednesday 12 June 2013.
Mr Davies was not injured but a 31-year-old man and a baby who were passengers in the other vehicle were killed while a woman is in intensive care in hospital, Tyumen region police said.
Officers believe the driver of the Polo may have fallen asleep at the wheel moments before careering across the road into the path of the oncoming Chevrolet as there were no skid marks and traffic was very light.
Rally director Philip Young said: "Emma was a fun loving, lively and popular member of the rally.
"In the three weeks we've been together both she and Peter proved themselves to be capable, competent and resourceful.
"Their 1970 Chevrolet C10 pickup was a remarkable sight in the Mongolian wilderness and today our thoughts and sympathies are with Emma's family and friends including her two brothers Robert and Mark who are also participating.''
The 33-day race, which began on May 28, sees competitors travel through some of the most remote and inaccessible areas on the planet as they drive through the Gobi Desert, Mongolia and Russia.
A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the death of a British national in Russia on 12 June. We stand ready to provide consular assistance to the family at this difficult time.''
Friends and former colleagues paid tribute to the "beautiful, funny, kind, amazing'' mother of two.
Debbie Baker wrote on Facebook: "Dear Emma. I never laughed so much with anyone as I did with you. Whether at Virgin, on our holidays or at parties. Such a beautiful, funny and talented lady. I will never forget you.''
Another friend, Susan Rodgers, described Ms Wilkinson as: "The loveliest and hilarious girl I ever had the pleasure of knowing.
"Just awful news... still in shock.''
One, under the name Maud Maudlin, said: "We hadn't finished laughing with you Emma and were looking forward to your new stories from this amazing trip.
"Simply taken too soon - You are the light that will always shine in the hearts of us you touched and will never, ever be forgotten.''
Neighbours in the picturesque village of Brigstock, where Ms Wilkinson lived with Mr Davies, spoke of their shock at the news of her death.
The curtains at the couple's detached house in the village were closed on Thursday.
Paying tribute to Ms Wilkinson, one neighbour said: "All I can say is that she was a bubbly, vibrant woman.''
The neighbour, who did not want to be named, said Ms Wilkinson had been working hard on growing a vineyard on land near her home.
The couple had bought a larger house further down from their current property and had planned to move in on their return from the rally after six months of renovations.
The neighbour added: "She was always smiling and friendly. She was a lovely person and it's just very sad. A tragedy for all her family.''
Another neighbour, who lives close to the new property, said: "She was a very lovely person, full of life. There was something very much revitalising about her.
"She has two lovely children - a daughter and a younger son. I spoke to her before her trip and she was so excited about going.''