Belfast Telegraph

Found after five days: the US tourist given up for dead

By Brendan McDaid

An American woman feared dead after going missing in Co Donegal has been found alive after a five-day search.

Kelly Katherine Jones (41), from Georgia, was found weak and disorientated when she was located at the Old Rectory outbuilding on the outskirts of Glencolumbkille, close to where she went missing.

Ms Jones was airlifted to Sligo General Hospital after being found yesterday at around 12.30pm by a local farmer and Garda officer.

An emotional reunion with her father was on the cards last night.

He arrived in Ireland prepared for the worst, but was taken to Sligo yesterday evening to see his daughter.

Rescue workers believed they were searching for a body following a night of ferocious rain and gales which persisted into yesterday.

The last confirmed sighting of the red-haired catering worker had been at 11am on Saturday, meaning she spent four nights missing, possibly out in the open.

The keen hillwalker had been staying at Malinmore Adventure Centre and had set off in hiking gear close to the highest coastal cliffs in Europe at Slieve League.

Yesterday morning rescue workers expressed fears that she may have plunged to her death as hopes dimmed.

The search had been redirected towards the Kilcar area nine miles away on Tuesday after a possible sighting, but it turned out to be a Polish woman of similar appearance, adding to the anxiety.

Of the miraculous discovery, Carrick Garda sergeant Tony Arnold said: “We are delighted the lady has been found alive. We were thinking the worst as she had been missing five days.

“She doesn’t appear to have been injured but she is possibly disorientated. She was able to speak but was very weak.

“It is fantastic news for everybody — there were a lot of local people out there involved in the searches, mountain rescue teams, the Coastguard, ourselves.

“She was on her own, there was no-one else with her.”

Ms Jones was in the second week of a fortnight holiday in the mountainous coastal region of south west Donegal when she vanished.

The alarm was raised after the US citizen failed to return on Sunday.

Brian Murray from Donegal Mountain Rescue said the volunteers had doubled back over ground already covered yesterday and the old building where Ms Jones was found had been searched on Sunday and again on Monday by his own rescue team.

“We are not sure where she had come out of. She was fairly weak and she was also hypothermic,” he said.

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