Remains found near French-Spanish border are missing British hiker, charity confirms

Remains found near French-Spanish border are missing British hiker, charity confirms
(Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)
Human bones found in the Pyrenees mountains on the border between France and Spain have been confirmed as the remains of a British hiker who went missing in November.

Esther Dingley had not been heard from since sending a WhatsApp message on November 22nd, having driven to the Spanish side of the mountains before French authorities imposed a second coronavirus lockdown at the end of October.

But on Friday the charity LBT Global confirmed that DNA testing had revealed the remains were those of the British woman.

Her partner, Daniel Colegate, and her mother, Ria Bryant, said in a joint statement: “We are distraught to report that we have received DNA confirmation that one of the bones found last week belongs to Esther.

“We have all known for many months that the chance we would get to hug our beloved Esther again, to feel her warm hand in ours, to see her beautiful smile and to watch the room light up again whenever she arrived was tiny, but with this confirmation that small hope has now faded. It is devastating beyond words.

“At this stage, with just a single bone found and no sign of equipment or clothing in the immediate area (which has been closely searched again over several days), the details of what happened and where still remain unknown.

“The search and rescue teams intend to continue their search on foot and with drones, particularly trying to find some sign of Esther’s equipment to understand how this tragedy occurred.”

The discovery of the bones was made near a hiking trail close to Bagneres-de-Luchon on the French-Spanish border, along with human hair and animal remains.

Hikers found the remains and alerted Spanish police, who determined that they were actually located on the French side of the border.

The find was sent to a police forensic laboratory in the regional capital Toulouse for DNA testing.

Dingley planned a hike around the Salvaguardia peak, spending one night at a refuge on the French side, according to police.

Her boyfriend Dan Colegate, who had remained in France, alerted the Spanish authorities after several days with no news.

Police on both sides of the border conducted a search with help from a helicopter, but quickly concluded that the chances of finding Dingley alive were low given the cold at the altitude — Salvaguardia reaches 2,738 metres (8,983 feet).

Dingley and Colegate had been travelling by camper van across Europe for the previous six years, according to a BBC profile of the couple.


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