British hiker ‘may have gone missing to continue nomadic lifestyle’ – Evening Standard
Esther Dingley and Dan Colegate had been travelling throughout Europe since 2014. The 37-year-old Oxford graduate set out on a solo hike from the Port de la Glere to the Port de Venasque, a trek which follows the border between France and Spain, according to local police. She was last seen on November 22 and was expected to return on December 2.
Captain Jean-Marc Bordinaro of France’s Gendarmerie de Saint-Gaudens told The Times: “Esther Dingley wanted to continue with her current way of life, journeys in a camper van and sporting activities including hiking, whilst Daniel Colegate seems a little tired of this nomadic life.” He added: “Did Esther Dingley want to go off on her own to live her life and organise her own disappearance? There is nothing enabling us to eliminate this working theory.”
Captain Bordinaro told the Daily Telegraph: “It could have been an accident, it could have been voluntary disappearance or a criminal act. We just don’t know so are pursuing all of these lines for now.” Authorities in France and Spain have had to call off searches of mountains where she was last seen due to heavy snow.
Mr Colegate, 38, has been interviewed by police three times by officers collecting background information about her. He is not considered a suspect.
( Esther Dingley and Dan Colegate / Dan Colegate/Facebook )
A spokesman for missing persons charity LBT Global, which is assisting her partner said “there is absolutely no suggestion that (Ms Dingley) was seeking ‘another life'”. Mr Colegate said in a Facebook post on December 1 that the “prevailing opinion” of authorities was Ms Dingley was not in the mountains following extensive searches.
She is now listed as a national missing person in Spain and her case has been passed to “a specialised judicial unit in France”, he added. “As things stand tonight, Esther is now listed as a national missing persons case in Spain and the case has been passed to a specialised judicial unit in France. “This means they will be looking at other options beyond a mountain accident.”
Mr Colegate said he was “very grateful” for the extensive efforts of rescue teams in Spain and France, which had utilised helicopters, dogs and a drone.
“While this is a terrifying development in many ways, I’m trying to focus on the fact that it leaves the door open that Esther might still come home,” he said in the post. “She was so utterly happy and joyful when we last spoke, I’d do anything to see her face and hold her right now.” The couple, from Durham, started to travel after Mr Colegate had a serious health scare, and had been documenting their campervan adventures online.
A Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office spokesman has previously said its staff were “supporting the family of a British woman reported missing in the Pyrenees and are in contact with the French and Spanish authorities”.
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