An underwater search for missing Nicola Bulley is continuing following a fresh appeal by her partner, who said her two daughters “desperately” miss her and “need her back”.
The search for Ms Bulley, 45, is entering its 11th day after she went missing on January 27 in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire.
In a statement released on Monday through Lancashire Police, her partner Paul Ansell said: “I have two little girls who miss their mummy desperately and who need her back.”
Ahead of the Specialist Group International (SGI) beginning its second day of searching the River Wyre on Tuesday, Peter Faulding said he did not think the missing mother was in the water.
Speaking with TalkTV, Mr Faulding – a leading forensic search expert and SIG’s founder – said: “I personally don’t think she’s in the river, that’s just my gut instinct at this point.”
He added that his team of divers would go back up the river on Tuesday, to search once again near the point where Ms Bulley’s mobile phone was found on a bench.
“Police were there on day one diving where the phone was found on the bench,” he told the Daily Mail.
“Normally, if a person has drowned, they go down within a few metres if being searched for the same day.
“In another couple of days I will be confident she is not in that area at all. We have the best sonar you can buy. We have scanned a huge area today (Monday) and there is nothing there.”
The expert diver added: “A body will move after a time, but they searched that area and came up with nothing – that is what is weird here. We are baffled.”
After spending Monday searching “three or four miles” of the river until it grew dark alongside Lancashire Police, Mr Faulding told the PA news agency: “It’s a negative search, no signs of Nicola”.
He added that his team will look through another stretch of river on Tuesday “towards where Nicola went originally missing”.
“We are also really grateful to Peter and his team from SGI for coming up and helping support the work of Lancashire Police as they continue their investigation.”
The force has searched the river and riverbank all the way to the sea, using search teams, sonar, search dogs, drone, helicopter and CCTV.
Her phone, still connected to a Teams call for her job as a mortgage adviser, was found on a bench on a steep riverbank overlooking the water, along with the dog lead, with the dog harness on the ground.
“Our working hypothesis remains that Nicola sadly fell into the river for some reason, but we remain open minded, and we are continuing to carry out a huge number of inquiries,” the force said.
Officers are now focusing on the river path leading from the fields back to Garstang Road, and urged drivers and cyclists who travelled that way on January 27, as well as anyone with CCTV or Ring Doorbell footage, to contact them.