ESTHER Dingley’s mum has said she is “devastated beyond words” after DNA tests confirmed human remains are those of the missing hiker.
Ria Dingley said she is “distraught” after a charity that has been helping with the search said tests showed one of the bones discovered in the Pyrenees belongs to Esther
Esther vanished in November last year, while climbing the 8,796ft Pico Salvaguardia in the Pyrenees.
The 37-year-old had not been seen or heard from since but remains believed to be hers were found by a mountain runner last Friday afternoon, on a path regularly used by walkers.
The remains were checked by French forensic experts against DNA samples from Esther’s mother Ria, while her dental records were checked for a match.
At the time of her disappearance, she had been travelling around Europe for six years in a camper with her partner Daniel Colegate.
Mr Colegate, and her mother said in 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.
‘DEVASTATING BEYOND WORDS’
“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.”
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.”
The remains were found at Puerto de la Glera – Port de la Glera in France – which is close to the Pico Salvaguardia summit.
The Port, or pass, is four miles long and incredibly steep; rising and falling 2,000ft to reach a maximum altitude of 7,794ft.
Experienced walker Esther last made contact with her partner there around 4pm on November 22 last year.
For Esther to have fallen that way, is unfortunately quite plausible
Mountain rescue guide Patrick Lagleize
Mr Colegate said Puerto de la Glera was part of the route he had expected her to take and insisted it would have been “well within” her capabilities in a dossier he released in January through LBT Global.
He said Esther had told an individual she met that she planned to do a circular hike between Spain and France which involved sleeping at a mountain refuge.
“There is no reason to think that Esther did not stick to this plan,” he said.
Specialist officers from Spain and France had carried out several searches of the area around the hiking trail.
French police chief Jean-Marc Bordinaro said after the find at the French mountain pass animals could have dragged the remains to the spot where they were discovered.
Speaking after the grisly discovery of what was believed to be a human skull and hair in the area last week, mountain rescue guide Patrick Lagleize said he believed it likely that Esther had lost her way and fallen to her death.
Mr Lagleize, President of the Pyrenean Guides Association (CGdP) told told French website LaDepeche.fr: “You can lose the way and slide on the scree (rocks and gravel).
“Logically, for Esther to have fallen that way, is unfortunately quite plausible.”
Esther’s partner of 20 years, Dan Colegate, recently claimed in a recent BBC interview he “could no longer agree” with the idea she had suffered an accident.
Source: The Sun