Diver dramatically ends river search for missing mum

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Specialist Group International leader Peter Faulding declared he had been “determined” to find Nicola but that he and her partner Paul Ansell, 44, were “relieved” that he hadn’t. Paul was sighted on Wednesday morning in the vicinity of the Lancashire village of St. Michael’s on Wyre, where Nicola was last seen, as Mr Faulding informed the worried father that “she’s not here” after a third protracted day of looking. 

Mr Faulding said he was “baffled” after failing to find the mortgage advisor who vanished on January 27, after dropping her two daughters – aged six and nine – at school, then taking her springer spaniel Willow for a walk along the river.

Ms Bulley’s phone was left on the bench near the river, still connected to a work call, with the dog lead and harness close by.

Mr Faulding and his team, from rescue operation Specialist Group International, have been searching the area around the bench, the “entry point” where it is believed by police Ms Bulley fell in the water.

But on the third day of his search, Mr Faulding said efforts had proved “negative”.

He said: “Well, Paul’s extremely obviously upset, he wanted to go and see where the original entry point was again, and the water’s a bit lower than it was originally when Nicola went missing.

“And he’s, he’s clear that, well all the family are clearly distraught like anyone will be.

“And it’s just, it’s not a nice place to be.

“And I’m just trying to explain what work we’re doing. And give him some confidence that Nicola is not in that river over there.

“Normally we find them, this is an unusual situation.

“And hopefully Nicola will appear somewhere or pop up somewhere, I don’t know.

“But with that, I’m, I’m totally baffled by this one, to be honest.

“Normally a drowning victim goes to the bottom. There was a bit of flow on the river that day. But normally we recover them within a few metres.”

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