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Partner of missing hiker Esther Dingley insists French police haven’t given up the search

Barney Davis
·3-min read
<p>British woman Esther Dingley takes a selfie before being reported as missing</p> (ESTHER & DAN via REUTERS)

British woman Esther Dingley takes a selfie before being reported as missing

(ESTHER & DAN via REUTERS)

The partner of a British hiker who went missing in the Pyrenees has said the investigation into her disappearance is continuing despite reports police had suspended the search.

Esther Dingley, 37, had been walking solo in the mountains near the Spanish and French border and was last seen on November 22.

Her boyfriend Daniel Colegate said on Sunday that he contacted the French and Spanish police who assured him the investigation was ongoing.

“Regarding recent media coverage and comments by a member of the French police, my response is to restate my gratitude and respect for the hard work the police forces and the search and rescue teams in both France and Spain have already carried out and plan to continue with in the future,” Mr Colegate said.

“I have been in close contact with the lead investigator in both countries since early December.

“Upon reading the recent articles, I contacted the major in the French police who is in charge of the investigation to ask if these comments reflect the official position of his team. His response was to reassure me that the investigation is ongoing.

“As I’ve said before, I’m aware of the challenges the police face in this investigation and I trust their abilities and determination.”

Mr Colegate, 38, had been hiking with Ms Dingley but was house-sitting at a French farmhouse on November 22.

Last week, French police captain Jean Marc Bordinaro told The Times “all possible investigations” in French territory have been carried out “without any result”.

He said: “We have no indication permitting us to confirm the presence of Esther Dingley in France since she was seen for the last time on the Spanish side of the Pic de Sauvegarde.

“We’ll probably have to wait till spring to undertake more searches.”

British woman Esther Dingley takes a selfie before being reported as missingESTHER & DAN via REUTERS
British woman Esther Dingley takes a selfie before being reported as missingESTHER & DAN via REUTERS

Ms Dingley’s mother Ria Dingley-Schoneveld previously toldThe Mirror that each day “was excruciating hell”.

“Not knowing where she is or what has happened to our beautiful Esther is destroying me and our family,” she said.

Mr Colegate said he intends to return to the area to repeat the intensive searches already carried out as soon as the weather permits.

He said: “I want to reiterate that Esther is an experienced hiker who was carrying suitable equipment in terrain that would not have been a challenge to her.

“She had completed countless similar hikes successfully in the past, never leaving trails and being well aware of her body’s needs and limitations.

“If she suffered an accident, for whatever reason, I firmly believe she would have been found on or close to one of the extensive, well-made paths in the area.

“The fact no trace at all was found, despite a wide-ranging and intensive search in good weather before the snow arrived, was frustrating and baffling to those involved in the search at the time.

“That no other signs have been found elsewhere does not change the scope or intensity of that search.

“At the moment, those of us who love Esther can only continue with the agonising wait for news.”

Esther Dingley who went missing late last year in the PyreneesPA
Esther Dingley who went missing late last year in the PyreneesPA

The couple, who have been together for almost 19 years, met at Oxford University and lived in Durham before they set off travelling around Europe in a camper van six years ago.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the LBT Global hotline on +44 (0) 800 098 8485 or via WhatsApp on +44 (0) 7545 826 497, or through delta.ops@lbt.global.

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