Ex-Durham Student Missing in Pyrenees

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Ex-Durham student, Esther Dingley, has disappeared whilst undertaking a solo trek on the Pyrenees.

Ms Dingley went missing on Sunday 22nd November, having sent a picture of herself to her partner of 18 years, Dan Colegate.

According to Mr Colegate, she had started her trek at Benasque, Spain, on Saturday and was planning to spend Sunday night at Refuge de Venasque in France. 

37 year-old Ms Dingley, who received a first-class degree from Oxford before studying for her masters in Durham, is a highly experienced trekker. 

Extensive searches were immediately carried out by both French and Spanish authorities. However, Ms Dingley has still not been found. The police have now been considering other options. 

Ms Dingley’s family have expressed fears that she has been kidnapped.

Recent updates reveal that police believe that Ms Dingley’s disappearance is either a “voluntary act or someone else’s actions” and that “it does not seem probable” that the 37 year old suffered an accident.

Ms Dingley’s family have expressed fears that she has been kidnapped.

In a Facebook post Mr Colegate, who is also a Durham postgraduate and was recently interviewed by the police as a witness in the case, wrote:

“Taking into account Esther’s high level of experience, the nature of the terrain, the good weather she would have had, the fact she had a clearly defined route for Sunday evening and Monday, and various other factors, both search coordinators have essentially told me that the prevailing opinion in the search teams is that she isn’t there.

“If she had fallen from one of the paths, they really would have expected to find her given the intensity, the closeness of the search and the fact most of the trails are really quite straightforward across open ground.”

He added: “She is now listed as a national missing person in Spain and her case has been passed to a specialised judicial unit in France”.

French police have claimed that there were “tensions” in the marriage of Mr Colgate and Mr Dingley, and that she may have left Mr Colgate deliberately. However, Mr Dingley has dismissed this theory.

Missing posters have been put up and police are trying to track down a hiker who gave Ms Dingley a lift three days prior to her disappearance. 

Spanish Olympic skier, Martí Vigo del Arco, passed Ms Dingley at 3pm on the 22nd November as she was on her way up the Pic de Sauvegarde, situated on the French and Spanish border. 

The skier told Spain’s La Vanguardia newspaper: “She asked us if we had a piece of fruit or something fresh, but we didn’t have anything. She carried on up.”

Recently revealed CCTV footage also showed the woman in a supermarket, where a shopper described her as “sad and thoughtful”.

Ms Dingley and Mr Colegate lived in Durham before setting out in 2014 to travel around Europe after facing severe health scares and realising that they were unhappy with their lives. Together they have a blog, Esther and Dan, on which they document their journey and experiences.

Image: Daily Mirror

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