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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Jane Dalton

Final picture of Nicola Bulley taking children on school run before tragic death


A last photograph of Nicola Bulley shows her preparing to take her young children to school just an hour before she drowned after slipping into a river, prompting a huge search for her.

The family’s doorbell camera captured the 45-year-old, her partner Paul Ansell and their two young children leaving their Lancashire home shortly before 8.30am on 27 January.

Her disappearance, after she dropped off her two daughters at school, was a mystery that for three weeks sparked widespread interest and a social media frenzy of speculation.

Screengrab issued by Lancashire Police of doorbell footage showing Nicola Bulley, her partner Paul Ansell, and her children outside their home on the morning she vanished
— (PA)

Ms Bulley’s body was not discovered until 19 February, just a mile downstream from the bench where her dog Willow and her mobile phone had been found.

The photo, shown at the inquest into her death, shows the family getting into her Mercedes. Ms Bulley has her hair pulled back into a ponytail and is in a long black coat.

The mortgage adviser died after accidentally falling into the River Wyre in freezing temperatures, an inquest concluded.

Experts told the hearing it would have been “almost impossible to swim against the current”, and Ms Bulley would have suffered cold water shock that caused her to inhale a fatal amount of water and lose consciousness within 45 seconds at most.

She had been walking her beloved springer spaniel Willow beside the river in St Michaels on Wyre before falling in.

Her family hit out at “wildly inaccurate speculation” about her death after the inquest.

An inquest concluded Nicola Bulley drowned after accidentally falling into cold water (Family handout/PA)
— (PA Media)

Terry Wilcox, of Hudgell Solicitors, which represented the family, said on their behalf: “We encourage people to look at the facts, the evidence which has been heard during the inquest, and the conclusion reached by the coroner, to ignore any amateur views and opinions, and be mindful of the impact words bring.”

The family said the “emotional impact will stay long in our hearts” and that they would “never get over the loss of our Nikki”.

The statement went on: “The help and support we have received over these few months has meant more than words can say. From family and friends, to complete strangers across the country and world, thank you.

Her disappearance sparked widespread interest and social media conspiracies (Family handout/PA)
— (PA Media)

“Nikki and Paul’s girls have already taken great comfort in the deeply thoughtful gifts sent to them in goodwill, and in time they will read the many cards which are filled with such kindness and love.”

Police had accused “TikTokers” of “playing private detectives” near the scene of Ms Bulley’s disappearance.

After she went missing, reports emerged of a number of apparent users descending on the village and spreading false information.

James Adeley, senior coroner for Lancashire, recorded her death as accidental, saying there was no evidence to suggest suicide.

Dr Adeley said evidence showed the area around the bench was above a steep slope, with an almost vertical drop to the water, with no footholds.

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