Mystery of the missing US tourist who ‘vanished’ into thin air on mountain
FEARS were growing today for the safety of missing American tourist Kelly Katherine Jones who appears to have disappeared without a trace in Co Donegal.
With her long, flame-red hair and cheery smile, Ms Jones (41) had become a familiar face along the roads around Glencolmcille in the past fortnight.
The tourist, from Georgia in the United States, is a hill-walking and hiking enthusiast, but on Saturday afternoon someone matching her description was seen walking up a mountain path just outside the village. She hasn't been seen since.
Or as one local volunteer involved in the search put it yesterday: "It's like she vanished into thin air."
All day yesterday, dozens of personnel and local volunteers searched by land, sea and air in an attempt to find her as her worried father made arrangements to travel to Ireland.
"She would have been here for 10 days on holidays. I think people were used to seeing her around," said Donegal Mountain Rescue Service co-ordinator Brian Murray.
The coastguard helicopter flew back and forward all day between the football field at Glencolmcille GAA club and the wild terrain on the Beefan and Garveross Mountain in the distance.
At sea, a rib was searching along the 35km shoreline between Sliabh Liag and Sliabh Tooey and on the rough mountain terrain volunteers on quad bikes were searching for any sign of Ms Jones.
"This is an unusual one," admitted one volunteer, "someone would usually have turned up by now but there is no sign of this girl at all. "We can only hope she's lost or she's headed off somewhere and doesn't know we are looking for her."
All of Ms Jones's belongings are still in the room she rented 12 days ago at the Malinmore Adventure Centre, a hostel 2km from Glencolmcille.
The missing woman's father gave permission to gardai to copy her passport picture so it could be released to the public, in the hope that someone may have seen Ms Jones since the last unconfirmed sighting at 5pm last Saturday.
He is said to be making arrangements to fly to Ireland to help in the search for his daughter, who worked in the services sector in Georgia.
"We are right up against the clock now," Mr Murray said.
"We have every available person up there now looking for her and we will continue to look for her. We had a case a few years ago where a woman went missing near a pier and we never found her. We hope this case isn't like that."
As darkness fell last night, volunteers were switching their search to outbuildings and ditches in the area.
Ms Jones is described as being 5ft 6in tall. Her last confirmed sighting was at 11am last Saturday. She was wearing a green jacket, black trousers and a red/maroon hat.
Anyone with information is asked to contact gardai at Glencolmcille on 074 9730002.