Remains of Esther Dingley, Missing British Hiker, Are Found

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For months, the authorities and Ms. Dingley’s partner combed the Pyrenees mountains. A DNA test confirmed the identity of remains found near her last known location, a group aiding the search said.

Remains of Esther Dingley, Missing British Hiker, Are Found
Remains of the British hiker Esther Dingley, who went missing in the Pyrenees in November 2020, were found, according to a group aiding the search.Credit...LBT Global/Family

The remains of Esther Dingley, a British woman who went missing while hiking alone in the Pyrenees mountains eight months ago, have been found, according to an international support group for missing person cases.

The organization, LBT Global, announced the discovery in a statement on Friday, adding that Ms. Dingley’s identity was confirmed through DNA testing after a single bone had been found close to her last known location.

An investigation remains ongoing, the group said, although it did not specify which authorities were involved. The organization said that there was still no sign of equipment or clothing in the immediate area where the bone was found, and that search and rescue teams would continue to scour the area by land and air.

PGHM Luchon, the French mountain authority in the region, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Ms. Dingley’s partner, Dan Colegate, and her mother said in a joint statement that the discovery was “devastating beyond words.”

“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,” they said.

Mr. Colegate and Ms. Dingley had documented their travels around Europe for the past six years on a popular blog, drawing attention from fellow globetrotters.

At the time of Ms. Dingley’s disappearance, she had been on a monthlong solo trek while Mr. Colegate stayed on a farm in Gascony, in southwestern France.

Ms. Dingley was last seen on Nov. 22 on Pic de Sauvegarde, a mountain in the Pyrenees along the border with Spain, according to the French authorities. She had planned to return three days later, Mr. Colegate said.

By early December and amid poor weather conditions, the authorities in France had grown pessimistic about the chances of finding Ms. Dingley. That month, Mr. Colegate said his partner’s disappearance had “broken” him.

In the months that followed, Mr. Colegate pursued his own search efforts alongside the French and Spanish authorities, zigzagging across the mountainsides surrounding Ms. Dingley’s last known location and her known route. “I’ve walked about 700 miles now and also found no sign of her,” he said in a statement on Facebook this month.

Writing about his exhaustive search efforts for the BBC, Mr. Colegate said his partner’s vanishing had “defined almost every waking moment for me for more than seven months now.”

He said that when friends suggested his search was like looking for a needle in a haystack, he disagreed with the comparison.

“Even if the analogy did work,” he wrote, “my response would be that you can find a needle in a haystack, if you’re willing to study every strand, one at a time.”