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Accidental fall caused death of British hiker in Pyrenees

Post-mortem examination of the body of Esther Dingley shows she died instantly after having fallen, laying to rest theories she may have been kidnapped or attacked by a bear

Esther Dingley went missing while hiking in the Pyrenees. Pic: PHILIPIMAGE / Shutterstock

British hiker Esther Dingley, reported missing by her boyfriend in November 2020, died from an accidental fall in the Pyrenees, it was confirmed yesterday.

"The autopsy reveals there was a fall that resulted in several fractures and immediate death", public prosecutor Christophe Amunzateguy told local news source Actu Toulouse on August 13.

Various possible explanations for the disappearance of the 37-year-old from Durham in England had been suggested, including kidnap and bear attack.

The latest findings came days after her body and hiking equipment were located at the Pic de la Gléré, eight months after the experienced solo hiker disappeared.

She had spent the past six years living and travelling in a van with her British partner, Dan Colegate.

It was Mr Colegate who discovered the body and equipment on Monday, after searches of the area by police on the ground and by drone had failed to do so.

Part of a skull, which was turned up nearby two weeks earlier, was confirmed to be hers. Only the hiker’s yellow tent remains to be found.

The body was discovered at the bottom of a rocky hill with items including a bag belonging to the victim found along the way.

An accident was the ‘most likely hypothesis’ LBT Global, a charity helping British victims of crises abroad and supporting Esther’s family, said in a statement at the time.

Although challenging for forensic pathologists given the time that had passed since the accident and the damage it had caused, “It was most definitely a fall”, Mr Amunzateguy confirmed.

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