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Friday 18 January 2019

'Our hearts are absolutely broken' - parents of missing teen Elisha (14) after four days of intensive searches

'No concrete sighting' of Elisha since she was last spotted around 10pm on St Patrick's Day

Missing teenager Elisha Gault
Missing teenager Elisha Gault
Garda divers conduct a line search along the River Suir as they hunt for schoolgirl Elisha Gault, who has been missing from her home in Carrick-on-Suir since St Patrick’s Day. Photo: Doug O'Connor

Ralph Riegel

THE parents of missing Tipperary teen Elisha Gault (14) said their "hearts are absolutely broken" that there has been no trace of her found despite four days of intensive searches.

Gráinne Gault confirmed that there has been "no concrete sighting" of her daughter Elisha since she was last spotted on Dillon Bridge in Carrick-on-Suir around 10pm on St Patrick's Day.

"Elisha's Dad, her sisters, myself and all her extended family and friends want to sincerely thank everyone who have been involved in the search for our daughter who unfortunately has still not been located," Gráinne said.

"Our hearts are absolutely broken to have not had any concrete sighting of her since the CCTV on Dillon Bridge at 10.15pm on St Patrick's night."

Garda divers conduct a line search along the River Suir as they hunt for schoolgirl Elisha Gault, who has been missing from her home in Carrick-on-Suir since St Patrick’s Day. Photo: Doug O'Connor
Garda divers conduct a line search along the River Suir as they hunt for schoolgirl Elisha Gault, who has been missing from her home in Carrick-on-Suir since St Patrick’s Day. Photo: Doug O'Connor

"Please keep coming forward with any information you may have - no matter how small."

Prayers were offered at all Masses in Carrick-on-Suir yesterday as divers trawled the River Suir for 1km downstream of the town while Gardai conducted door-to-door inquiries and examined hundreds of hours of CCTV security camera footage for any indication of Elisha's movements.

However, despite an intensive search of the River Suir downstream of Dillon Bridge, where Elisha was last spotted on the evening of St Patrick's Day, nothing of note was found.

The search for the missing Tipperary schoolgirl has now been extended to Waterford, Clonmel and Kilkenny in the hope she may have caught a lift and be staying with a distant acquaintance.

Searches of the River Suir will resume at first light today. Detectives have already checked with Elisha's friends and are satisfied she is not staying with any Carrick-on-Suir pal.

Gardai stressed that they are still hopeful that Elisha is alive and may be staying with an acquaintance somewhere else.

However, one Garda source acknowledged that fears for Elisha's welfare are mounting the longer she remains untraced.

Dozens of concerned Carrick-on-Suir residents lined the town quays throughout yesterday as search volunteers combed the fast-flowing river with divers conducting finger-tip searches of the riverbed and riverbanks.

One search volunteer warned that searches will be far more difficult over a stretch of river further downstream, more than 1km from Dillon Bridge.

"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," he said.

Elisha left her home at New Street in Carrick-on-Suir between 9pm and 10pm on St Patrick's Day - and was last spotted on Dillon Bridge, not far from her home, a short time later.

She was alone when last seen.

Four separate water units continued trawls of the River Suir from first light yesterday.

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 search units from Clonmel, Waterford and Nenagh.

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.

Gardai have now extended their appeal for information to nearby towns and cities to Carrick-on-Suir including Clonmel, Kilkenny and Waterford.

This is amid speculation Elisha may have travelled outside Carrick-on-Suir last Saturday night.

Elisha's parents, Grainne and Cameron, issued another heartfelt appeal for information on her whereabouts. Grainne, 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 Gardai.

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

"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."

Grainne said her entire family have been overwhelmed by the incredible public response to the search for Elisha.

Posters of the missing teen have been placed in shops and Windows throughout the south-east.

"Thank you to all the people of Carrick, parents, teenagers, sending well wishes and going out in that frosty weather to look for Elisha," she said.

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."

It is understood Elisha left her Carrick-on-Suir home without her mobile phone.

When last seen, she was not wearing a jacket - and is not believed to have much cash on her person.

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

He 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 Gardai 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 and Kilkenny is being checked for any indication of Elisha's movements.

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