THE mother of the missing hiker Esther Dingley has said she is ‘distraught’ over the disappearance of her daughter who vanished climbing the Pyrenees mountains.
Speaking out for the first time since Esther, 37, went missing three weeks ago, Maria ‘Ria’ Bryant said it was ‘totally out of character’ for her daughter to not be in touch with her
In a joint statement with Esther’s partner Daniel Colegate, mum Maria wrote: ‘We are utterly distraught not knowing where Esther is or what has happened to her and would implore anyone who may know anything, however seemingly insignificant, to come forward with that information.
“We are desperate to see our beloved girl again so thank you for anything you can do to help us find her.
“It is utterly out of character for her to be out of contact for this length of time and we are missing her desperately.
“Esther values family above everything and on all her trips we are always in regular contact, sharing the day to day small details of life.
“We communicated several times every day.”
Daniel last heard from his girlfriend of 19 years when she sent him a selfie after she made her way to the summit of the Pic Sauveguard mountain.
He reported Esther missing three days later on November 25 after she failed to return from her journey from Port de la Glere to the Port de Venasque.
Esther, a fitness enthusiast and blogger who has spent six years touring Europe in a campervan, was last seen by Spanish Olympic skier Marti Vigo del Arco and his girlfriend on November 22.
The couple said they were on a descent at around 3pm when they met an English woman while she was still ascending, who asked the pair for a piece of fruit.
Last week we reported how police investigating her disappearance said Esther’s private life ‘was not as idyllic as social media suggested’.
Capitaine Bordinaro said: “We want to investigate all possibilities. We do not rule any line of inquiry.
“But it does not seem probable that Esther suffered an accident, and it is not credible that she was eaten by a bear or that she has fallen into a lake.
“We believe that her disappearance is either the result of a voluntary act, or as a result of someone else’s actions.”
Oxford graduate Daniel has been grilled by police three times since his girlfriend’s disappearance, but cops maintain that he has been interviewed as a witness and not a suspect.
Speaking out yesterday, Daniel dismissed media reports that their relationship was an unhappy one.
He said: “We spoke every day, the time apart worked as we expected, and we were very joyful when we spoke.
“The hike she went missing on was to be her last before driving back. Our last conversation was totally loving and all smiles. She was so happy, and we were excited to see each other.
“Why the police [officer] who spoke to a journalist implied ‘things weren’t as happy as they looked’ baffles me.
“I have never spoken to the person quoted.”
He added that
He described his girlfriend as a ‘very experienced’ mountain hiker who always kept him updated with her planned routes.
Daniel said: “The terrain she was on is not difficult. The weather was excellent. It does not mean she hasn’t had an accident; I just consider it unlikely.
“There seems to be a perception that because it’s the mountains, because it’s nearly winter and because Esther was alone, that what she was doing was reckless.”
Esther’s family is now being supported by LBT Global, formerly the Lucie Blackman Trust, which assists relatives of missing people abroad.
Chief executive Matthew Searle MBE called for a ‘swift end’ to speculation about what happened to Esther.
He said: “Our priority is supporting Esther’s loved ones through this traumatic time and it is clear they are deeply upset at some of the speculation.
“Spreading unconfirmed assumptions is unhelpful and unfair, as well as deeply upsetting for those closest to Esther.”
Searches for the 37-year-old have been suspended due to bad weather and both French and Spanish police say they are investigating her disappearance.