THE dive expert scouring the river in the search for Nicola Bulley says his team will end their efforts later today.
Peter Faulding said they have done all they can to try and find the missing mum-of-two who vanished on January 27.
He told reporters this afternoon: “Wherever she is I hope closure comes soon.
"All the family are clearly distraught."
Discussing search progress, the dive leader said there is simply "no sign" of Nicola near to where she vanished around St Michael's on Wyre, Lancashire.
He explained: "We've cleared completely the area where the bench is and about a mile up from the bench, where the phone was initially found.
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"We've run the side scan sonar from here down to the next bridge, which is about three or four miles away and there is no sign of Nicola in that particular area.
"We've done very thorough searches all the way down to the weir. I'm totally baffled by this one, to be honest.”
The veteran diver, on the scene since Monday, also praised police divers who have scoured the stretch "three times extremely thoroughly".
But he concluded: "That area is completely negative. There is no sign of Nicola in that particular area."
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And he admitted he was "glad" his team haven't found her – handing over responsibility to police divers to carry out searches farther afield.
It is not yet clear if police diver searches at the mouth of the River Wyre and out towards the sea, will continue as they have done in recent days.
Mr Faulding is the founder of private forensic searchers Specialist Group International (SGI) from Surrey.
The team were drafted in on Monday to assist police divers in to search the river bed with Sonar but found no trace of the 45-year-old.
They had been using £55,000 equipment in their scour on the river.
But last night Lancashire Constabulary hit back at after he told multiple news outlets he thinks the mum-of-two is not in the river, before later changing his opinion and saying she is.
Mr Faulding – who is offering his services for free – also previously alleged "third party" involvement in Nicola's disappearance.
Superintendent Sally Riley said: "Clearly Mr Faulding isn’t included within all the investigation detail any more than the members of the public are that I’m briefing through these sorts of press conferences."
The dive expert said: "It is very difficult without that information.
"Normally, I'm privy to that information… it would be useful to know."
It comes as distraught partner Paul Ansell visited the scene this morning.
He spent 10-minutes walking the river bank near the bench where Ms Bulley's phone was found, still connected to a work Teams call.
Nicola, a mortgage adviser from nearby Inskip, was last seen walking her dog at around 9.15am the day she vanished.
She had dropped off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school before heading to the towpath near the River Wyre.
Monday's search for Nicola focused downstream on the tidal area of the river but Tuesday's search took place further upstream.
It included and went beyond the area where Nicola's belongings were found on a bench near Garstang Road.
It is a non-tidal area of the river.
Other dive teams started to look further upriver towards Fleetwood and the Irish Sea on Tuesday.
Police maintain the mum "sadly fell" in the river.
Cops are now focusing search efforts on the track from the fields, where she was last seen, to Garstang Road in St Michaels on Wyre, which may hold vital clues.
It is a CCTV blackspot around the field and they are appealing to drivers and cyclists who may have dashcam footage.
Police are confident, after reviewing CCTV, that Nicola, from nearby Inskip, did not leave the field near the river via Rowanwater.
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This is the case for leaving either through the site itself or the piece of land at the side.
And she did not return from the fields along Allotment Lane or via the path at the rear of the Grapes pub onto Garstang Road.
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