Monday 23 April 2018

Family of missing Elisha (14) supported by family and friends as search enters eighth day

  • Family of Elisha supported by family and friends as search widens
  • Social media is now playing a key role in the appeal for information on Elisha's whereabouts
  • Searches of the River Suir in Carrick-on-Suir resumed at first light Sunday
  • Week-long search operation across five counties
  • CCTV trawled for clues
Elisha's mother, Gráinne, has appealed to anyone who may have seen anything unusual in Carrick-on-Suir or its surrounding areas since Elisha vanished at 10.10pm on St Patrick's Day to contact gardaí.
Elisha's mother, Gráinne, has appealed to anyone who may have seen anything unusual in Carrick-on-Suir or its surrounding areas since Elisha vanished at 10.10pm on St Patrick's Day to contact gardaí.
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE heartbroken family of a missing Tipperary teen were supported by family, neighbours and friends as they marked one week since Elisha Gault (14) disappeared without trace.

Elisha's mother, Gráinne, has appealed to anyone who may have seen anything unusual in Carrick-on-Suir or its surrounding areas since Elisha vanished at 10.10pm on St Patrick's Day to contact Gardaí.

Social media is now playing a key role in the appeal for information on Elisha's whereabouts.

"Please share, try and remember back, are you missing something so small that it means nothing to you but can mean a lot to us," Gráinne said.

Gardaí admitted they are now deeply concerned for the safety of the Comeragh College student.

Searches of the River Suir in Carrick-on-Suir resumed at first light today.

Despite a massive week-long search operation across five counties, no trace of Elisha has so far been found.

The last sighting of the teen was shortly after 10pm on the evening of St Patrick's Day on Dillon Bridge in Carrick-on-Suir.

CCTV security cameras caught footage of Elisha walking on the bridge - but there has been no CCTV footage of her since then and no confirmed sightings of the teen.

Gráinne issued a heart-rending appeal for public help in finding Elisha - and for the teen to come home safe.

"Elisha, your daddy, myself and your three sisters love and miss you very much," she said.

"We always have your back no matter what - you are so beautiful, with brains to burns and hilariously funny."

"We miss your craic. We just want you home for a movie night - get in touch, egg."

The massive search effort has extended beyond Tipperary to Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny and even Cork.

"We want to sincerely thank everyone that has been involved in the search (for) our daughter," she said.

"We continue to thank everybody involved in searching, helping and supporting, you will be eternally in our hearts."

Elisha left her home at New Street in Carrick-on-Suir between 9pm and 10pm on St Patrick's Day.

She was last spotted on Dillon Bridge, not far from her home, around 10.10pm.

Elisha was alone when last seen on CCTV camera footage.

The teen had left home without a coat and without her mobile phone.

She is not believed to have much cash with her.

Detectives have already checked with Elisha's friends and are now satisfied she is not staying with any Carrick-on-Suir pals.

Gardaí stressed that they are still hopeful that Elisha is alive and may be staying with a distant acquaintance somewhere else.

However, one Garda source acknowledged that fears for Elisha's welfare have mounted the longer she has remained untraced.

"It is very worrying," he said.

Search volunteers have combed the fast-flowing River Suir with divers conducting finger-tip searches of the riverbed and riverbanks just below the town.

Yesterday, searches were assisted by the deployment of special side-scan sonar to examine the river bed downstream of the Tipperary town.

The special sonar device, which resembles a torpedo, can be used to examine specific stretches of the river bed as well as underwater channels and holes.

The main search has focused over the past week on a 1km stretch of the River Suir downstream from Dillon Bridge.

However, over recent days the search has extended to a more challenging search area between 2km and 5km downstream of the town.

"There's a huge amount of debris down there including trees and branches. The river is also much deeper and more difficult to operate in because of holes left from the removal of gravel over the years," one search volunteer said.

Carrick-on-Suir River Rescue were supported by the Civil Defence and the specialist Garda Water Unit which deployed its operational unit on the town quays.

The search has also been supported by volunteer search units from Clonmel, Waterford and Nenagh.

Improved weather conditions have boosted the search effort around Carrick-on-Suir.

Divers were supported by Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBS) which shuttled up and down the River Suit all day between search zones.

A number of reported sightings of a young girl matching Elisha's description are being investigated by Gardai but, as yet, detectives indicated that they have not received any confirmed sightings.

Elisha's parents, Gráinne and Cameron, have now urged people to report anything unusual to Gardaí, no matter how trivial they may think it to be.

Gráinne, who works in a beauty salon in Carrick-on-Suir, has posted daily social media updates on the search for her daughter.

The mother urged Elisha or anyone with knowledge of the teen's whereabouts to come forward and help Gardaí.

"If you know of her whereabouts, tell her she is not in trouble," Grainne said.

"She won't be forced to come home if she does not want to."

"We just want to know that she is safe and well so we can call off all the search efforts - and that myself, her daddy and her three sisters love her very much, no matter what."

Elisha's father, Cameron, said the family are hoping and praying that she is safe and well, possibly staying with a friend outside her normal circle of acquaintances.

"We want to let her know that she is in no trouble whatsoever," he said.

In a direct appeal to Elisha he said: "Just make contact with us and let us know you are OK."

Clonmel's Supt William Leahy again appealed for public assistance in their search for Elisha.

Gardaí specifically want to trace a number of individuals reported in Carrick-on-Suir that evening ranging from a group of three people seen walking near St Molleran's GAA club grounds to one sighting of a tall, thin female with blonde hair spotted walking between Collins Park on the Faugheen Road to the railway bridge by Carrick-on-Suir mart.

The latter female was seen between 10.30am and 11am on Sunday morning. Supt Leahy urged that if Elisha or any of her friends hear the appeal and have information on the teen's whereabouts that they should immediately contact Gardaí or search officials.

Elisha, who is a secondary school student at Comeragh College in Carrick-on-Suir, is five foot ten inches in height, of slim build, with blue eyes and dyed blonde hair.

Footage at all train and bus stations across Tipperary, Waterford, Kilkenny and Wexford has been checked for any indication of Elisha's movements.

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