Boy, two, drowned in river police believe claimed  Nicola Bulley' life

Boy, two, drowned in river police believe claimed Nicola Bulley' life

February 4, 2023

Boy, two, drowned in river that police believe has claimed the life of missing Nicola Bulley

  • Reece Maybury drowned in May, 2000 after he disappeared from caravan park
  • The body was found seven miles away from where Nicola disappeared

A two-year-old boy drowned in the river which police believe missing-mother Nicola Bulley may have died in.

Reece Maybury from Rochdale drowned in May, 2000 after he disappeared from the River Wyre Caravan Park, Mains Lane, Singleton.

The child’s body was found on a sand bank in the shadows of Shard Bridge, half a mile down stream near the foot of the Shard Bridge.

The little boy drowned just seven miles up stream from where Nicola Bulley went missing. 

A major search operation was launched after the child’s grandfather reported him missing from the caravan site.

Two-year-old Reece Maybury drowned in the river which police believe missing-mother Nicola Bulley may have died in

The little boy drowned just seven miles up stream from where Nicola Bulley,45, pictured right, went missing and where the police believe where she could have died trying to fetch her dog’s tennis ball 

Police helicopters, members of the public and the coastguard searched along the banks during high tide where the body was found two hours later. 

Nicola, 45, mother to two daughters aged nine and six, disappeared while on a dog walk a week ago, last Friday morning.

She was walking along the River Wyre in Lancashire when she vanished without trace, just minutes after texting a friend to arrange to meet up with them.

The mortgage adviser sent the text at 8.57am just before logging on to a Teams call while she walked her dog, locals were told at a village meeting.

Her final sighting was at 9.10am and 25 minutes later her phone and dog lead were found on a riverside bench.

After a week of searching the river and the surrounding areas a police helicopter was seen continuing the search for Nicola over the village of St Michael’s on Wyre, where she lives with her partner and two children. 

Police yesterday expressed concerns the missing mother-of-two may have fallen in the icy cold water of the River Wyre while trying to retrieve her dog Willow’s tennis ball. 

Specialist search crews have not recovered the ball – or anything of note – at this stage.

The mother to two daughters aged nine and six, disappeared while on a dog walk a week ago, last Friday morning. She was walking along the River Wyre in Lancashire when she vanished without trace, just minutes after texting a friend to arrange to meet up with them

As the search for Ms Bulley enters its ninth day, the mysteries surrounding the mother-of-two’s disappearance remain.

Police released a detailed timeline of Ms Bulley’s morning, revealing she was last seen walking her dog along the river by a witness who is known to her. The witness saw her dog was off the lead and not wearing its harness.

Ten minutes later, at 9.20am, the police know her phone was on the bench it would later be found.

At 9.33am Nicola’s dog was found running around in an agitated state, near to the bench where her phone, the dog’s lead and harness were lying.

Why hasn’t Nicola Bulley been found in the river and why was her dog’s harness removed? Fifteen vital questions about mother-of-two’s disappearance


A key part of the investigation concerns what happened during those missing ten minutes – this could drastically help move the police investigation forwards.

Investigators are also trying to substantiate whether Ms Bulley put her phone down on the bench herself because her dog was in danger.

They believe it is possible she placed her phone on the bench momentarily before heading towards the riverbank, and then fell into the river.

The banks of the river are known to be treacherous and slippery, and Ms Bulley could have fallen in and become weighed down by her heavy clothing.

But no footsteps or sign of a fall have been located in the area, her family have said.

Another crucial line of investigation is where Ms Bulley’s possessions may be now.

She was last seen wearing an ankle-length black quilted gilet jacket, a black Engelbert Strauss waist-length coat, tight-fitting jeans and green wellies.

She had a necklace on and a pale blue Fitbit strapped to her wrist as she took her Spaniel, Willow, on a brisk walk through River Wyre – a route she took often after dropping her daughters to school nearby.

The police are searching a 10-mile stretch of river to the Irish sea but have so far found no sign of the 45-year-old.

Members of the public are urged to look out for anything which could belong to her and contact police if they find any clothing which matches the description.

Police said on Friday their main hypothesis is that Ms Bulley fell into the Wyre while attempting to help her dog.

But when Willow was discovered she was found to be ‘bone dry’, meaning she ould not have entered the water at any point. 

She was also described as agitated when discovered by another walker.

One theory suggests that rather than trying to assist Willow, Ms Bulley could have been trying to retrieve her dog’s ball if it rolled into a location too difficult for the dog to retrieve it.

Photographs show she often let her dog off the lead to play near the river, and the ball may have slipped down the riverbank. No ball has been found at the scene or in searches by police, but it could have fallen into the river and become lost.

Despite no signs of her having fallen such as footprints, police said yesterday they have ‘no evidence whatsoever that there is anything suspicious about her disappearance or any third-party involvement in her going missing.’ 

The family are doing all they can to try and divert the attention of Nicola’s two young children. 

They are trying to keep their lives as normal as possible  while they wait for further information about their mother. 

They are keeping their routine and letting them go to their weekend clubs and have sleepovers. 

Nicola Bulley’s disappearance: A timeline 

– January 27 

The 45-year-old dropped her daughters – aged six and nine – off at school in the morning before walking her dog, Willow, in St Michael’s on Wyre, Lancashire. 

Lancashire Police have said the mortgage adviser, from nearby Inskip, had been walking along a path beside the River Wyre just before 9am. 

She was seen by a dog walker who knew her at around 8.50am, and their pets interacted briefly before they parted ways, according to the force. 

At 8.53am, Ms Bulley sent an email to her boss, before logging on to a Microsoft Teams call at 9.01am. She was seen by a second witness at 9.10am – the last known sighting.

By 9.30am, Ms Bulley’s Teams call had ended, but her phone stayed connected to the call. Approximately five minutes later, another dog walker found her phone on a bench beside the river, with Willow darting between the two. 

At 10.50am, Ms Bulley’s family and the school attended by her children were told about her disappearance. 

Lancashire Constabulary launched an investigation into Ms Bulley’s whereabouts on the same day and appealed for witnesses to contact them.

 – January 28 

Lancashire Constabulary deployed drones, helicopters and police search dogs as part of the major missing person operation. 

They were assisted by Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, as well as Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue team and the North West Underwater Search Team. 

– January 29 

Local residents held a meeting at the village hall to organise a search for Ms Bulley at 10.30am on Sunday, according to reports from The Mirror, and around 100 people joined the search.

Police urged volunteers to exercise caution, describing the river and its banks as ‘extremely dangerous’ and saying that activity in these areas presented ‘a genuine risk to the public’. 

– January 30 

Superintendent Sally Riley from Lancashire Constabulary said police were ‘keeping a really open mind about what could have happened’, and that they were not treating Ms Bulley’s disappearance as suspicious. 

– January 31 

Lancashire Constabulary spoke with a potential witness – a man who had been walking a small white fluffy dog near the River Wyre at the time of Ms Bulley’s disappearance. 

Her family released a statement saying they had been ‘overwhelmed by the support’ in their community, and that her daughters were ‘desperate to have their mummy back home safe’. 

– February 1 

Ms Bulley’s parents, Ernest and Dot Bulley, spoke to The Mirror about the ‘horror’ they faced over the possibility of never seeing her again. 

Her father told the newspaper: ‘We just dread to think we will never see her again, if the worst came to the worst and she was never found, how will we deal with that for the rest of our lives.’ 

– February 2 

Lancashire Constabulary spoke with a second witness who they had identified with the help of the public using CCTV – but they told police they did not have any further information to aid their inquiry. 

Officers from the North West Police Underwater and Marine support unit searched the area close to where Ms Bulley’s mobile phone was found, while police divers scoured the River Wyre. 

Meanwhile, Ms Bulley’s family appealed to the public for help tracing her. Speaking with Sky News, her sister Louise Cunningham said: ‘There has got to be somebody who knows something and all we are asking is, no matter how small or big, if there is anything you remember that doesn’t seem right, then please reach out to the police. 

‘Get in touch and get my sister back.’ Ms Bulley’s father said that his family hoped their interview would ‘spark a light’ that would lead to her being found. 

– February 3 

Lancashire Police said they were working on the hypothesis that Ms Bulley may have fallen into the River Wyre. 

Superintendent Sally Riley urged against speculation, but said it was ‘possible’ that an ‘issue’ with Ms Bulley’s dog may have led her to the water’s edge. 

She urged the public to look out for items of clothing Ms Bulley was last seen wearing, and gave an extensive list. 

Ms Bulley’s friends also shared heartfelt appeals via television interviews, including Emma White, who told the BBC that Ms Bulley’s daughters were continually asking where she was. 

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