Search for missing mum-of-four goes on as family thank public for support
The sister of a mother-of-four missing from her Draperstown home since Sunday has made an impassioned plea for help to find her as a search operation enters its fifth day.
Helen McElhennon (42) was last seen in her car around 10.30am on Sunday.
Mrs McElhennon is described as 5ft 4ins tall, of medium build with short, dark hair and possibly wearing a maroon coloured cardigan or long brown dress.
A black Mitsubishi Warrior driven by the missing woman was located a short time later at a lay-by on Derry's cityside close to the Foyle Bridge.
Mrs McElhennon's sister Teresa Kidd said the family have been overwhelmed by the level of public support but are desperate to find her and want people in the wider north west area to check outbuildings and sheds.
She said that while Mrs McElhennon suffered from depression and they are fearful she may not still be alive, they are clinging to hope that she will be found safe. She said: "As a family we are totally distraught and so worried about Helena but we have been overwhelmed by the level of support we have been getting from so many people, those who know Helena but also from those who do not know her.
"These kind people are lifting us up right now because although Helena was affected by depression, the hope we have is she could be safe somewhere, but we just want her home.
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"Helena's car was located near the Foyle Bridge in Derry but there have been no CCTV sightings of her, there have been no withdrawals from her bank account so we have no idea where she is.
"I would appeal to anyone who is out walking, especially over rough ground, to keep an eye out for her and to farmers who have outbuildings or sheds, if they could check them.
"We are so grateful for all the help and support we have been getting and I wish Helena could see how many people love her and care about her and want her home safe with us."
The search operation involves a number of teams, and is being co-ordinated by Foyle Search and Rescue.
Spokesman Pat Carlin advised members of the public who want to volunteer to help search for Mrs McElhennon to familiarise themselves with their safety guidelines and wear high visibility clothing.
Mr Carlin said: "After tasking by the PSNI, volunteers from both Foyle Search & Rescue and the Community Rescue Service have been conducting ongoing search operations at various locations in an effort to locate Mrs McElhennon.
"The combined efforts of FSR and Search Team Northwest along with a large family group and the public was evident last night as the search continued in the city and this will continue at both high and low tides.
"There has been no sighting of Mrs McElhennon and nothing to signify the possibility that she is in the city but because her car was located near the river all these areas are being checked.
"We have a drone team and sonar team out as a matter of routine and we are carrying out high and low tide searches twice a day and we will continue to do that.
"There is a big community spirit of people helping with the searches and hopefully Mrs McElhennon will turn up soon."
Anyone who has seen Mrs McElhennon or knows of her whereabouts is asked to contact the police on 101 and quote reference number 771 24/11/19.