Nicola Bulley: Search for missing Lancashire mum moves out to coast after river divers find nothing
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The search for missing mum-of-two Nicola Bulley has moved out to the coast after baffled divers pulled out of their search of the River Wyre. It’s been nearly two weeks since Nicola, who hasn’t been seen since she went out to walk her dog following a school drop off in the village of St Michael’s, Lancashire, vanished seemingly “into thin air” on Friday, January 27.
Two boats with specialist police teams have been spotted searching the sea at Morecambe Bay this afternoon (Thursday, February 9), before heading upstream either side of the River Wyre. Lancashire Police have maintained a “working hypothesis” that Nicola fell in the river, but after dive teams found nothing after searching the stretch of water where the 45-year-old disappeared, they have confirmed finding her in the sea has become “more of a possibility”.
According to Sky News, specialist diving units have also been deployed to search parts of the 15km stretch of river from the bench where Nicola’s phone and dog were found towards the bay. In some parts of this stretch of river, the water is tidal and fast-flowing.
In a statement, Lancashire Police said: “People may have seen less police activity today than previously in the area of the river above the weir but that is not because we have stepped down our searches, it is because the focus of the search has moved further downstream into the area of the river which becomes tidal and then out towards the sea."
Nicola’s family and friends have disputed the mortgage adviser fell in the river as they claim there is “no evidence whatsoever” to suggest this happened. As a specialist team pulled out of the operation saying she was “categorically not” in the area of the river they were searching, team leader and forensics specialist Peter Faulding admitted he was “baffled” by the case.
Mr Faulding’s team was equipped with a £55,000 side-scan sonar able to pick up objects underwater, but still failed to find any trace of Nicola. On Wednesday (February 8), Mr Faulding told reporters he did not believe she had been swept out to sea: “My personal view is that I think it is a long way to go in a tidal river.”
Meanwhile, police are looking into a number of “grossly offensive” comments being made online about the case. The force also confirmed it dispersed people from outside the local area who had been found filming in properties.
At a press conference earlier this week, superintendent Sally Riley urged amateur detectives not to take “the law into their own hands”, as this was damaging to the police investigation and “hurtful” to Nicola’s parents, partner, children and friends, who are said to be “distraught” over her disappearance.