Fears are growing for the safety of an American tourist who has gone missing during a walking vacation in West Donegal.
Kelly Jones, a 41-year-old catering worker from Georgia, was last seen on Saturday when she left a hostel in Glencolumbkille to go hill walking.
A volunteer searcher said she had ‘ vanished into thin air’ shortly afterwards.
The alarm was raised on Sunday when she had failed to return and a major search operation is now underway involving the Coast Guard helicopter, the Donegal Mount Rescue and local volunteers.
Kelly’s family are on their way to Ireland as the search continues. She has been described as an experienced hill-walker by local police officer Anthony Arnold.
“At the moment she is a missing person,” he said. “There have been sightings of her, the last one around 5.30pm in the Glencolumbkille area on Saturday evening.”
Locals are worried for Kelly’s safety the longer the search goes on.
“This is an unusual one,” admitted one volunteer, speaking to the Irish Times. “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.”
Brian Murray of Donegal Mountain Rescue said: “If she has been out for two nights, the conditions have not been too bad. Sunday night was fairly clear, Monday morning was fairly misty and wet and we have sunshine now, but with two nights there is a strong possibility of hypothermia.
“She did have hill walking clothes on so we are working on the basis that she is either lost or has been injured.
“The terrain is hard to navigate, especially when misty. Although the hills at the top were quite flat, they are also close to some very high drops.”
Locals reported that Kelly had become a familiar sight to them during her two week holiday in the area.
“We are right up against the clock now,” added Murray. “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.”