Nicola Bulley: Dive team pull out of underwater river search - ‘I’m baffled by this one, to be honest’
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A specialist diving team searching for missing mum-of-two Nicola Bulley have pulled out of the operation as they “categorically” believe she is not in the section of the river where it is believed by police she fell in. Peter Faulding, a leading forensic search expert and chief executive of Specialist Group International, said the team have been “unable” to find Nicola in that area of the River Wyre.
Nicola, 45, has been missing for nearly a fortnight now. The mortgage adviser was last seen walking her dog in St Michael’s, a 10 minute drive from her home in Inskip, after dropping off her two daughters at school.
Nicola’s dog, a brown Spaniel called Willow, was found running loose shortly afterwards along with her phone, which was placed on a bench and still connected to a work conference call. But despite an extensive search by police, divers and members of the local community, no other trace of her has been found.
At a police press conference in St Michael’s this week, Superintendent Sally Riley said officers still have a “working hypothesis” which is that Nicola fell in the river - something her family and friends disagree with, as they say there is “no evidence whatsoever” to suggest this happened.
What has Nicola Bulley dive team said?
Mr Faulding, who was called in by the family and is assisting police with the search, said: We’ve done very thorough searches all the way down to the weir. Police divers have dived it three times, extremely throroughly.
“That area is completely negative, there is no sign of Nicola in that area. The main focus will be the police investigation down the river, which leads out to the estuary.
“If Nicola was in that river, I would have found her - I guarantee you that. She is not in that section of the river.” Faulding, whose team deployed a £55,000 side-scan sonar in order to pick up any objects underwater, added: “I am totally baffled by this one, to be honest.”
What else has happened in past 24 hours?
On Wednesday, (February 8), Nicola’s partner Paul Ansell visited the stretch of the river bank where she went missing and spoke with Mr Faulding at the scene. Mr Ansell is said to be “distraught”, and previously said this week he didn’t want to put Nicola’s daughters to bed for another night “without answers”.
A search has now taken place along a nine mile stretch of the River Qyre, which ends at the sea in Fleetwood and floods out to Morecambe Bay. As the search continues, Supt Riley urged amateur detectives “not to take the law into their own hands” by abusing witnesses or attempting to break into empty buildings along the River Wyre.