'Dangerous' area Jay Slater was last seen where expert chillingly predicted 'accidents'

Apprentice bricklayer Jay was last heard from at 8.50am on Monday
-Credit: (Image: Instagram)

A mountain rescue specialist had ominously warned that an accident at a picturesque national park in Tenerife was "inevitable" – four years before British teenager Jay Slater went missing.

The search for the 19-year-old from Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire, has intensified as it reaches its fifth day, with friends and family growing increasingly worried.

Jay's last known location was Tenerife's treacherous Masca region within the Teno Rural Park, known for its perilous ravines and challenging trails. He had contacted his friend Lucy Law on Monday morning to tell her he was lost, suffering from thirst, and that his phone battery was down to 1 per cent. There has been no contact with him since that call.

Local expert Vicente Infante, a trails spokesperson for the Tenerife Mountain Federation, had previously highlighted the risks of navigating the park unprepared. He chillingly foresaw the likelihood of an accident happening due to hikers underestimating the terrain and not carrying proper gear, reports the Mirror.

Emergency workers searching near the village of Masca, Tenerife
Emergency workers searching near the village of Masca, Tenerife -Credit:PA

Vicente pointed out the stark contrast between past and present hikers, noting: "Hikers in the past were prepared, used suitable footwear, helmets... In short, they carried all the equipment."

He lamented the current trend of ill-prepared visitors, saying: "What happens nowadays is that many people go with normal trainers, shorts, shirts... that's where the risks are. More and more people are going, so sooner or later an accident will happen. It's inevitable."

He pointed out that many of the hikers needing rescue are tourists who lack familiarity with the terrain. "They come from other countries and think that we live in an eternal spring and that there is no danger," he said. "Most of those who have accidents are people from abroad, tourists, with no knowledge of the area."

Getting the necessary knowledge is not straightforward, Vicente added. "Information exists, but it is hard to find and confusing," he explained. "Each institution signs the paths in a different way and this generates confusion. What you see on the panel at the start of a path may not coincide with what it says in the leaflet and this, in turn, with what appears on the website."

Moreover, signage is often "often missing, broken or painted over". There's also a lack of fresh drinking water sources, making treks through the park quite demanding.

A hiker's review highlighted the potential dangers of the trails, advising: "Hiking shoes with good grips necessary." They continued: "If you slip or fall, a bed of cacti are there to catch you."

The same reviewer cautioned: "Signposted but some paths were not obvious. Bring at least two litres of water, no water along the way."

Jay was last seen dressed in a simple T-shirt and trainers, having already injured his leg on a cactus spine. He had missed the bus to his holiday accommodation and opted to walk the route, a journey that could take between eight to ten hours.

His stepdad, Andy Watson, expressed scepticism about the idea that Jay would have embarked on a lengthy and perilous trek by foot. Speaking to the Daily Mail, he said: "He has me run him down to the hairdressers, 200 yards away - why would he walk eight hours?"

Andy speculated that Jay may have met someone and gone for an unscheduled drink. Meanwhile, Jay's mother Debbie is worried that her son could be held captive.

She told reporters: "I'm not stupid, I've been to Tenerife before, I've worked abroad myself and I gave him warnings, I just think if anyone has got him let him go, he's not a bad person."

His friend Lucy, speaking to the Mirror, voiced her frustration with the local police and urged for UK officers to assist in the search. She stated: "We need British police here. I just want to find my mate. He's been missing three days. It's not looking good now. We feel as though it's down to us to find him and that we're doing more than the police."

She continued, criticising the language barrier and lack of progress: "The police here don't speak English and don't even have a translator after three days. I feel like they're fobbing me off. They're still asking me the same questions as when I first reported Jay missing."

Lucy also highlighted concerns regarding the last individuals seen with Jay, saying: "The two boys that he was last with have left the country. They need to be questioned by British police."