Investigators also believe Esther Dingley may have slipped in walking shoes worn without spikes and may have slipped over a cliff edge in a moment of ‘possible thoughtlessness’
British hiker Esther Dingley ‘fell almost 100ft to her death after losing her footing on rocky ledge in the Pyrenees before a bear or wolf dragged her skull away from her body, say investigators.
Esther Dingley went missing on November 22 while out hiking in the Pyrenees.
Her boyfriend Dan Colegate discovered her body and equipment on August 9
A fragment of her skull was discovered on a mountain pass last month.
Her remains and skull were found only 100 yards m apart on a treacherous hiking trail.
Forensic teams recovered her mobile phone but not her light-weight yellow tent.
It is thought she plunged down a steep boulder strewn slope near to the 2,300ft summit of the Pic de la Glere which straddles the French-Spanish border.
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Items from her rucksack, including her phone were found scattered on a rocky ledge spread close to remains of her body that were discovered earlier this week by her boyfriend Dan Colegate.
The search was suspended in December due to deteriorating weather but resumed in the Spring and human remains, later confirmed to be a piece of Esther’s skull, were found last month.
The Public prosecutor in charge of the investigation Christophe Amunzateguy admitted the events leading to the 37-year-old’s death might never be known.
He said: “The exact and precise circumstances of the death we will never know, a person who falls, and the condition of the body, make the investigation very complicated.”
But the prosecutor said all the evidence so far gathered by his forensic teams points to an accidental death.
He is waiting for the results of an autopsy before making public his findings.
“The accidental theory is now more than strong because the body was found directly below a kind of rocky peak,” he added.
“We believed that Esther would have fallen because along this wall, we found items that belonged to her and they ended up at the bottom.
“We estimate the fall at about twenty or even thirty meters.”
Investigators also believe Esther may have slipped in walking shoes worn without spikes.
She was wearing a pair of worn La Sportiva hiking shoes, but not a Kahtoola Microspikes traction system that she had with her.
The spikes are marketed as the ‘gold standard’ crampon-style add-ons for mountains ‘in frozen conditions’.
But it is thought Ms Dingley was solely using the shoes, because weather conditions were relatively good.
State prosecutor Mr Amunzateguy said the shoes were worn after months of use, and ‘clearly the soles were a bit smooth’.
Discussing the latest in the case on Friday, Mr Amunzateguy said that she may have slipped over a cliff edge in a moment of ‘possible thoughtlessness’.
This was despite being a highly experienced hiker.
Pathologists in the French city of Toulouse have carried out an autopsy on the remains that were located 437 yards from the top of the Pic de la Glere, a popular spot for hikers who walk along the French-Spanish border.
Last month fragments of bone from Dingley’s were found a short distance away further down the mountain at an area known as Porte de Glere.
ESTHER & DAN via REUTERS)
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Investigators believe a bear or wolf had dragged the skull to its resting place.
A DNA sample provided by her family was able to match the fragment found to that of the hiker.
Esther also had numerous pieces of kit with her at the time of her disappearance, including a distinctive bright red and grey rucksack and yellow tent
Dingley’s boyfriend Dan Colegate has expressed disbelief at the theory that Esther may have died after becoming injured during her solo hike as she was an experienced hiker who should have had no problem with the route she is believed to have taken.
The couple, both Oxford graduates, had been travelling around Europe in a camper van for years after quitting their careers and Durham home.