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Daniel Hall

Inquest rules Nicola Bulley's death was accidental and she 'died almost immediately' after falling into river

Mother-of-two Nicola Bulley "died almost immediately" after falling into the River Wyre, an inquest has concluded.

Ms Bulley, 45, disappeared after dropping her nine and six-year-old daughters at school and taking her pet spaniel Willow for her usual dog walk along the River Wyre in St Michael's, Lancashire, on January 27. Dr James Adeley, senior coroner for Lancashire, expressed his condolences to the family who were present throughout the hearing as he recorded a verdict of accidental death at Preston County Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

Dr Adeley ruled out suicide, saying that she fell into the river and suffered "cold water shock". Ms Bulley's mobile phone was found on a bench overlooking the water when still connected to a Teams work call. Her body was found in the river about a mile from the bench on February 19.

Read more: Nicola Bulley's Fitbit gave heartrate reading for eight days after drowning, inquest hears

Nicola's partner, Paul Ansell; her parents Dorothy and Ernest; and her sister Louise Cunningham all gave evidence on the second day of the inquest. Mr Ansell broken down in tears and had to leave the room after giving his witness statement, in which he called Nicola an "incredible mum".

Ms Bulley was last seen at 9.10am on January 27 by fellow dog-walker, Claire Chesholm, and she used her phone to adjust the volume on the aforementioned Teams Call at 9.18am. Between 9.15am and 9.30am, she walked 273 steps, with a substantially increased heart rate recorded at 9.22am.

Another witness, Penny Fletcher, arrived at the bench at 9.33am, meaning that the maximum window of time that Nicola Bulley went into the river was 15 minutes. The coroner also concluded that the flow of the river and the lack of handholds or footholds made it "almost impossible" to get out of the river.

Evidence showed Ms Bulley would have died before reaching the first point in the river where she could have touched the bottom, and the shock of immersion meant she was unable to stand up or float. She had no alcohol in her bloodstream at the time of her death and the cause of death was due to drowning.

The coroner said: "On January 27 at around 9.22am Nicola Jane Bulley fell into the River Wyre and died almost immediately."

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