Esther Dingley’s mum and partner say ‘hope has faded’ after hiker’s remains identified

Esther Dingley’s partner, Daniel Colegate, and her mother, Ria Bryant, said they are distraught after receiving DNA confirmation that one of the bones found last week belongs to Esther.

The mum and boyfriend of missing British hiker Esther Dingley have released a heartbreaking statement after human remains found in the Pyrenees were confirmed to be hers.

Esther’s partner, Daniel Colegate, and her mother, Ria Bryant, said they are distraught and devastated, as their remote hope that the hiker could be alive has now faded.

The 37-year-old had been walking solo in the mountains near the Spanish and French border and was last seen on November 22.

A search was launched after she went missing, with Spanish and French police constantly keeping in touch with her family during the investigation.

Last week, a hiker found some human bones in the mountains.

Today LBT Global, the charity representing her family, confirmed they received DNA proof that one of the bones belonged to Esther.

The charity stressed that the investigation is still in its infancy, with just one bone currently located.

Mr Colegate and Mrs 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 family would like to express their gratitude to the officers in charge of the various police units in France and Spain, the British consulates in Bordeaux and Barcelona, and LBT Global, all of whom have remained in close contact with us for months now.

“Their continued support and their determination to find answers is welcome.”

LBT Global chief executive Matthew Searle said: “This is the tragic end we have all feared.

“This is devastating news for Esther’s loved ones – never before have I seen such incredible determination as that showed by Daniel in his relentless physical search of the mountains.”

Commander Jean-Marc Bordinaro, who has been involved in the search from day one, said at the time the discovery was made in the area Ms Dingley was supposed to be in when she disappeared.

He had previously admitted that it was “very likely” that Durham-born Ms Dingley had been involved in a mountain accident, and had been unable to raise help.

The search for her was called off in February because of deteriorating weather, but it resumed in the spring.

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