The missing mother, Nicola Bulley, may have been weighed down by the heavy clothing she was wearing on the day she went missing after falling into the river while trying to pick up a tennis ball for her dog, police suggested before.
And outdoor swimming expert Camilla Golledge told MailOnline that the shock of cold water could also limit a person's ability to swim to safety.
The 45-year-old mother-of-two was last seen in an ankle-length black quilted vest, waist-length black coat by Engelbert Strauss, skinny jeans and green wellies.
She had a light blue Fitbit strapped to her wrist as she took her spaniel Willow for a brisk walk along the River Wyre, a route she often took after dropping off her two daughters at the nearby school.
Today the police announced that they have a suspicionMrs. Bulley probably fell into the river 15 feet deeplast Friday morning.
Nicola Bulley wore a harness on her dog for walks, raising questions as to why she was found near her disappearance. Police insisted it was normal for Nicola.
Speaking to MailOnline after a press conference in the village of St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley said officers were looking at all scenarios.
But he admitted it was "possible" Ms Bulley fell into the River Wyre while trying to retrieve a tennis ball for her dog near the water's edge.
Ms Bulley has posted numerous pictures of herself exercising along the same stretch of the River Wyre she was last seen onthe Strava running tracking app.
A few photos show Willow playing with the ball.
Superintendent Riley said: "I am not aware of any dog ball being recovered but a ball may have rolled down the steep bank near the water's edge and Mrs Bulley bent down to pick it up."
What she wore could also be a factor.
"I don't want to speculate, but the facts are that he was wearing an ankle-length quilted vest, which is a large coat, and underneath was another coat, and then underneath that coat, more clothes."
He also wore ankle-high rubber boots. One would expect them to fill with water when someone enters a river, so all this clothing is heavy, especially on someone who is slight and only 5ft3 tall.
Another photo of Willow shared by Ms. Bulley on her Strava account
Police divers from the North West Police Underwater Unit returned to the River Wyre today to continue combing the riverbed for leads.
Police believe Ms Bulley fell in the water and may have been trying to find a toy for her dog.
Mr Ansell tried to break the news of her disappearance to his two daughters, who are now confused and continue to ask their grandparents when he will be home.
Outdoor swimming expert Camilla Golledge said there could be other factors that could play a role as well.
READ MORE: Friends fear Nicola Bulley "slid down a steep, muddy river bank" while walking her dog
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The Kent-based trainer said: "People are experiencing cold water shock at the moment because the water is so cold... which means their natural response is to take a deep breath, which means the water is filling your lungs."
Anyone would experience it unless you are an experienced outdoor swimmer.
This has less to do with clothes. Surely they won't help you.
She said Ms Bulley might not have been able to call for help, especially as her clothing and wellies weighed her down.
"Most people who experience cold water shock or drown in open water are people who had no intention of being there," Ms Golledge said.
“What you have to do is train your breathing to go in slowly instead of falling or jumping.
Even I, as an experienced open water swimmer, go in slowly and have to train my breathing. My body is shocked by this unnatural breath.
Superintendent Riley said there were no reports of people in distress, no shouting or spraying, and no footprints were found on the bench.
And while police are working on the theory that Ms Bulley somehow made it into the water, they're still exploring other avenues to rule out any other scenario.
Superintendent Riley told the Lancashire Post: "Some waterfront exits are covered with security cameras or the exits are closed and therefore Nicola could not have crossed them.
"There is only a very small area on Garstang Lane towards the A5/A6 that is not covered by CCTV and as such we are asking for dashcam footage today of anyone who may have been walking or driving on Garstang Lane in the area are coming forward when they can.
The 45-year-old mortgage advisor sent the text message at 8:57 a.m. M. just before logging onto a Teams call while walking her dog by the River Wyre in Lancashire.
The search process in the river is long and slow, but police remain hopeful.
They are seen here moving the boat into the water to continue the search.
Members of the public line the road to St Michael's in Wyre, Lancashire with missing Mrs Bulley signs
This aerial view shows the vast and expansive country that was at the center of the police search.
Specialized police officers scanned the stretch of the River Wyre near the bank where his mobile phone was found late Friday morning.
The site is 300 meters from a dam that divides the river between tidal and non-tidal.
Nothing significant had been found, the official said, but added that a "large mass" could pass down this dam, which would pose "more complexities and challenges" as it flows toward the coast nine miles away at Fleetwood.
Officials have been scanning the river bed using modern underwater drones, resembling mini-submarines equipped with cameras operated by someone on land or in a boat.
Police dive teams will continue to comb the Wyre riverbed near shore over the weekend while the Coastguard and RNLI will continue to survey the tidal stretch to Fleetwood and Morecombe Bay.
Author and ex-soldier Chris Ryan, who is passing throughChrisRyanMMand was a member of the British Army's elite SAS force for a decade, which also highlighted the struggles Nicola would have faced had she fallen overboard.
A nearby car park was cordoned off today but police say it has nothing to do with the investigation.
The bank where Ms. Bulley presumably left her cell phone before she disappeared
"The combination of depth and cold at this time of year makes [the river] very dangerous," a source said.
A police officer guards the entrance to the street where Mrs. Bulley was last seen.
"This is a terrible case and my heart goes out to her and her family. During my service at SAS I was involved in three missions involving river falls and unfortunately people can underestimate the power of water along with the dangers of an unstable river bank," he told MailOnline.
Ms. Bulley's Strava account shows that she has taken this route many times
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“We all do these walks and every day they go without incident. Collapses are not always predictable, so surprise often decides how a person goes into the water, for example upside down. Then consider various other factors such as tremors, undercurrents, debris and clothing.
“A full-grown adult can be swept away in as little as 17 inches of fast-moving water. Then imagine a swollen, fast-moving river with a large amount of loose debris. If a person falls into a river, their clothing will soak up the water and this extra weight would make it very difficult to swim or stay off the surface.'
He added: "I really hope this young lady is found soon. I walk my dog by a river, so I know for a fact that at first glance it's a beautiful place.”
Previously, Superintendent Riley said detectives were "as certain as possible" that the missing mother-of-two had not left the riverbank at St Michael's on Wyre and "this is not suspicious but a tragic missing person case".
Superintendent Riley said they are trying to "put together a ten minute window where we cannot explain her movements" since she was last seen at 9:10am. M. last Friday and when he left his phone in a bank at 9:20 am. M
She said: "We think it's stayed afloat. Our working hypothesis is that unfortunately for some reason it fell into the river. There is no evidence whatsoever that her disappearance or the involvement of a third party in her disappearance is suspicious," adding that "any speculation to the contrary is disturbing to Nicky's family."
Police also revealed today:
- Detectives believe Nicola fell into the river within ten minutes of her last sighting and the time she left her phone on a bench;
- Officers said they checked all available video cameras and that Nicola did not leave the area. They also search a 10-mile stretch of water to the Irish Sea;
- Lancashire Police warned people to be careful after dark in or around the river, particularly anyone trying to help search at night.
- A sealed parking lot near the area where Ms. Bulley was last seen.not related to the investigation
Ms Bulley's heartbroken friend spoke for the first time today and said: "It's like she just vanished into thin air, it's crazy."
Paul Ansell, an engineer, said he is focused on staying strong for his two daughters, who have asked what happened to their mother a week after she went missing from a walk.
Close to the scene where Mrs Bulley was last seen in the River Wyre in Lancashire, she told the announcers: "My whole focus is on my two daughters, I'm just staying as strong as I can for them."
"I'm afraid that if I focus on something else, it will take my mind off it. I just hope something comes out of yesterday's interview, however small.
Pictures of the pet, shared by Ms Bulley on fitness app Strava, show she regularly wore a harness while out and about.
After thanking the local community for their "incredible" support, he added: "I just can't believe we're a week old and it doesn't seem like we're there.
It seems absolutely impossible. Like a dream. I can not understand. Right now it's like it's gone, it's insane.
Ansell said he "can't understand" her disappearance. He said: "Every step meets a wall. All of them.
"All we do is sit around and around and around through each phase."
She added that she was focused on taking care of her two daughters and "didn't want to think about" how she was doing.
Police yesterday made a public appeal to a woman seen on CCTV wearing a red coat in the River Wyre when Ms Bulley went missing last Friday morning.
The 67-year-old woman in a red coat, who was the subject of a police witness call, told officers she did not see Ms Bulley during their walk.
MailOnline previously revealed that Christine Bowman, 67, told police she did not see Ms Bulley while she was walking her own dog, Snowflake.
Ms Bowman said she was baffled by the appeal to locate her because she had already spoken to officers on the day Ms Bulley disappeared and "knows nothing".
Why wasn't Nicola Bulley found in the river and why was her dog unharnessed? Fifteen key questions about the disappearance of a mother of two
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The local resident, who police hoped could provide vital information in their search for Ms Bulley, is not traveling to the bank where the missing mother's phone and dog were found.
Security camera footage capturing her was captured from the trailer park next to the towpath.
"That's as far as it goes, she doesn't go past that point with her dog."
It's a devastating blow to Ms Bulley's family, who have been waiting with bated breath for updates on the investigation.
In an appeal yesterday for the woman to be located, a Lancashire Police spokesman said: "She is said to be wearing a red and white coat with a fur hood, light-colored trousers and a light-colored hat with pompoms."
“He walked a small white dog. The woman was spotted on CCTV around 8:48am in Allotment Lane, near where Nicola was last seen and also near the gate at the end of Allotment Lane.
However, a friend said: "Their paths have not crossed, unfortunately she has no information as to where Nicola could be."
While the investigation extends to an eighth day, a source with the San Miguel Fisheries Association said the stretch of river where Ms Bulley disappeared was notorious at about 15 feet deep and was "very dangerous".
"The combination of depth and cold at this time of year makes it very dangerous," he told the Times.
"I certainly wouldn't want to fall in there and I'm a very strong swimmer." Specialized police divers meticulously searched the riverbed for clues.
Officers taped Skippool Creek car park next to the River Wyre in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire, and investigators in white forensic suits carried bags of evidence.
The disappearance of Nicola Bulley: a timeline
- 27 January
The 45-year-old dropped her daughters, aged six and nine, to school in the mornings before walking their dog Willow in St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire.
Lancashire Police said the mortgage adviser, from nearby Inskip, was walking down a path along the River Wyre just before 9am.
She was spotted by a dog walker who knew her around 8:50 a.m. and their pets briefly interacted before separating, according to police.
At 8:53 am, Ms. Bulley emailed her boss before logging into a Microsoft Teams call at 9:01 am. She was seen by a second witness at 9:10 am, the last known sighting.
At 9:30 am, Ms. Bulley's team call ended, but her phone remained connected to the call. About five minutes later, another dog walker found her phone on a river bank bench while Willow ran between the two.
At 10:50 am, Ms Bulley's family and the school her children attended were notified of her disappearance.
Lancashire Police launched an inquiry into Ms Bulley's whereabouts the same day and asked witnesses to get in touch.
- 28 January
Lancashire Police have deployed drones, helicopters and police search dogs as part of the major missing persons operation.
They were assisted by the Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, as well as the Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team and the North West Underwater Search Team.
- 29 January
Local residents held a town meeting at 10:30am on Sunday to organize the search for Ms Bulley, The Mirror reports, and around 100 people took part in the search.
Police urged volunteers to exercise caution, describing the river and its banks as "extremely dangerous" and saying activity in these areas posed "a real risk to the public".
- January 30th
Lancashire Police Superintendent Sally Riley said police were "very open about what could have happened" and were not treating Ms Bulley's disappearance as suspicious.
- 31 January
Lancashire Police spoke to one potential witness: a man who had been walking a small, fluffy white dog near the River Wyre at the time of Mrs Bulley's disappearance.
Her family issued a statement saying they were "overwhelmed by the support" in their community and that her daughters were "desperate to get their mother home safely."
- February 1st
Ms Bulley's parents, Ernest and Dot Bulley, spoke to The Mirror about the "horror" they faced at the prospect of never seeing her again.
Her father told the newspaper: "We're just afraid we'll never see her again, if the worst comes to the worst and she's never found, how are we going to deal with that for the rest of our lives?"
- February 2nd
Lancashire Police spoke to a second witness, whom they identified with the help of the public using CCTV, but told police they had no further information to help their enquiry.
Officers from the North West Police Marine and Underwater Support Unit searched the area near where Ms Bulley's mobile phone was found, while police divers searched the River Wyre.
Meanwhile, Ms Bulley's family asked the public for help in locating her. Speaking to Sky News, his sister Louise Cunningham said: "There has to be someone who knows something and all we ask is, no matter how small or big, if there is something you remember that isn't right appears, then please. "Contact the police.
Get in touch and get my sister back. Ms Bulley's father said her family hoped her interview would "turn on a light" which would result in her being found.
- 3 February
Lancashire Police said they were working on a hypothesis that Ms Bulley may have fallen into the River Wyre.
Superintendent Sally Riley pushed speculation but said it was "possible" that a "problem" with Ms Bulley's dog pushed her to the water's edge.
He urged the public to look out for the items of clothing Ms Bulley had last worn and gave an extensive list.
Ms Bulley's friends also shared heartfelt calls through television interviews, including Emma White, who told the BBC Ms Bulley's daughters kept asking where she was.