Private search and rescue team to join missing dog walker operation
A private underwater rescue team has joined the search for the missing dog walker Nicola Bulley.
The 45-year-old was last seen more than a week ago, walking her dog Willow in Lancashire. Police are working on the theory she fell into the River Wyre.
New CCTV pictures, captured by her Ring camera on Friday 27 January, show Ms Bulley loading her car outside her home before driving her two children to school.
Specialist Group International (SGI), a private search and rescue team confirmed it will begin work with Lancashire Police to help find the missing mother of two.
Police previously confirmed the items of clothing she was wearing included an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat, tight-fitting black jeans, long green walking socks, ankle-length green Next wellies, a necklace, and a pale blue Fitbit.
The case has sparked an outpouring of empathy across the country, but also significant speculation, as Ms Bulley’s disappearance continues to confound police.
In a statement, Lancashire Police said SGI “will join an already large, multi-agency search operation involving a wide variety of search assets and resources”.
It added: “Their capability will overlay what has already been, and continues to be done, in order to give extra search coverage along what is an extremely challenging environment to search.”
In an attempt to dispel misinformation, a friend of Ms Bulley’s named Tilly Ann has outlined 11 pieces of information she feels the public should know, which she shared in a Facebook post she said was backed by Ms Bulley’s family.
Police believe Ms Bulley went missing in just “a 10-minute window”, and the mortgage adviser’s phone was still connected to a Microsoft Teams call, which began at 9am, when it was discovered on a bench at the riverbank at around 9:35am, along with her dog’s lead.
The last-known sighting of her was by another dog walker at 9.10am, and police have traced telephony records of her mobile phone as it remained on the bench at 9.20am.
According to the police theory, Ms Bulley may have fallen into the river while retrieving a tennis ball for her dog.
However, her friend Emma White has rejected the idea that she would have been carrying a tennis ball, an assertion backed by Ms Ann, who said that Ms Bulley and her partner Paul Ansell “rarely” take the tennis ball out on walks with their dog Willow as she is “very protective” over it.
Lancashire Police said on Sunday – the 10th day of the search – that a “key witness” had come forward, a day after announcing they were trying to trace a woman who was seen pushing a pram nearby that morning.
“We must stress that she was very much being treated as a witness and was one of many people in St Michael’s on Friday, January 27th,” the force said.
“Our enquiries to find Nicola are extensive and will include speaking to as many members of the public as possible.”