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Stephanie Simpson: New Zealand police find body of missing woman
14 February 2020
Police looking for a British woman missing in New Zealand have said they have found her body.
Stephanie Simpson, 32, from Essex, is thought to have died in a “tragic accident” while on a hike last weekend in Mount Aspiring National Park.
Searchers made the discovery at about 13:40 New Zealand time (00:40 GMT) on Friday in the Pyke Creek area, New Zealand Police said.
She appeared to have been “washed into a canyon” after going into water.
Ms Simpson, from the Basildon area, was reported missing on Monday, when a search began in the national park in the country’s Southern Alps region on its South Island.
According to her Facebook account, she had been living in the Wanaka area since November and was working as a landscaper.
A thermal-imaging drone, dog teams, helicopter and search teams failed to find any sign of her on Thursday, and police in New Zealand had said the search was difficult due to the size and terrain of the area.
The search continued on Friday with more teams, who focussed on the Pyke area of the park.
Her body was located after aerial searches provided images of the area and her boots and backpack were spotted, police said.
Sgt Mark Kirkwood, from West Coast Search and Rescue, told the BBC there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding Ms Simpson’s death and it appeared to be a tragic accident.
It seemed that she had left the hiking track, taken off her boots and gone into a waterfall, he said.
Her body was found in a canyon in the Pyke Creek area, which suggested she had been washed down into it. Her boots were about 900m (2,953 ft) upstream from where her body was discovered and her backpack was nearer to her.
“It’s a very hazardous area. We have no idea why she went into the water,” Sgt Kirkwood said.
Her body was identified by her mother and other family who were at the search site after travelling to New Zealand from the UK.
Sgt Kirkwood said police wanted to thank all those involved in the search for their “considerable efforts”.
“The search was extremely challenging at times, especially in consideration of the terrain, and the work of all involved is to be commended,” he said.
“Police extend their condolences to Stephanie’s family at this tragic time.”
The death will be referred to the coroner.
People posting on a crowdfunding page set up by a friend to support the LANDSAR rescue team have been talking about the loss.
One, who wished to remain anonymous, thanked those who found her and said she was “a bright light amongst many and will be sadly missed [by] those who knew her”.
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sources: world news from bbc news bbc.co.uk