he partner of missing mother-of-two Nicola Bulley has said he is “100 per cent convinced” she is not in a river close to where she disappeared.
Speaking to 5 News presenter Dan Walker, Paul Ansell said the family was going through “unprecedented hell” but would never give up hope of finding her.
Ms Bulley, 45, vanished two weeks ago while walking her dog willow next to the River Wyre.
Police believe she fell in the river but despite extensive searches of the river and the surrounding area they have no evidence to back this theory up.
Speaking to Mr Walker during an emotional interview, Mr Ansell said: “Extensive searching, you know, as you’re probably aware, has gone on in that river.
“The fact that the divers and underwater rescue team and all that were in that river on the day, and thankfully found absolutely nothing, in the part where you would have to presume is her last known location.”
“Personally, I am 100 per cent convinced it’s not the river, that’s my opinion.”
Ms Bulley had dropped off her daughters, aged six and nine, at school and was on her usual walk when she disappeared, her phone – still connected to a call for her job as a mortgage advisor – was found on a bench overlooking the river.
Despite a huge search of the river and surrounding countryside by Lancashire Police, no trace of her has been found.
Mr Ansell said: “Nikki would never give up on us ever. She wouldn’t give up on anybody. And we’re not gonna ever give up on her like, we’re going to find her.
“There has to be a way to find out what happened, there has to be. You cannot, you cannot walk your dog down a river and just vanish into thin air. Something happened that day, something…”
Police have discounted foul play and are treating the incident as a missing person enquiry, believing that Ms Bulley has fallen into the water.
But police say they are still keeping an “open mind” and have been appealing for information.
Focus of the police search on Thursday switched from St Michael’s to around 10 miles downstream where the river empties into the sea at Morecambe Bay, with police patrol boats and rescue boats spotted on the river and in the bay.
Talking about his children, Mr Ansell went on: “The only thing, the only thing that I can do is tell them that everybody is looking for mummy.
“The best people in the world are looking for mummy – just to give them that, you know, that level of hope that they can understand that everything that can be done to find mummy, is being done.”
Asked how he feels about the situation, Mr Ansell added::“Anger, loads of frustration, confusion, disbelief, surrealism, nothing feels real.”
He continued “It just doesn’t feel real… I feel like I’m in the Truman show. I honestly believe I’m going to wake up at any moment… how are we even in this? We are good people.”
Vanished: What Happened To Nicola Bulley?, by ITN Productions, will air on Channel 5 at 9pm on Friday.
Ms Bulley’s friends made a fresh plea on Friday for “crucial” dashcam footage from the area she went missing on January 27.
Her friend Emma White told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the mystery surrounding what happened to her friend is “frustrating” and the search “like torture”.
She said: “It is two weeks today. The local community are coming out to raise that profile. We’re trying to jog anybody’s memory.
Residents in the area have received a letter asking for information, and Ms White made a particular plea for witnesses and dashcam footage from Garstang Road, just outside the village, around the time Ms Bulley went missing.
Friends and concerned locals were seen holding placards on the village roadside on Friday in a desperate bid for more information.
Lancashire Police believe Ms Bulley fell in the River Wyre while walking her springer spaniel Willow.
The force has discounted foul play and are treating the incident as a missing person enquiry, but police say they are still keeping an “open mind” and appealing for information.
Police have shifted the search towards where the River Wyre meets the Irish Sea at Morecambe Bay.
Officers have also been seen sweeping the water at Knott End-on-Sea, around 10 miles from where the mortgage adviser’s phone was found on a bench, still connected to a work call.
Ms Bulley’s family called in help from Peter Faulding, a rescue and forensic search specialist, but after a three-day search earlier this week, no trace was found.