Harrowing reason Jay Slater may not have been found by search teams

Parque Rural de Teno area,  near Masca, Tenerife.
-Credit: (Image: Stan Kujawa)

The family of Jay Slater - who has now been missing for three weeks - is depending on the help of specialist volunteers after Spanish police ceased their official search efforts.

Despite an extensive two-week search in the Parque Rural de Teno near Masca village in Tenerife, where Jay had been staying at an Airbnb, a Civil Guard spokesperson stated: "The search operation has now finished although the case remains open."

With the 19 year old having disappeared on the morning of June 17, his father Warren Slater, mother Debbie Duncan, and elder brother Zak are receiving assistance from local experts.

READ MORE: Jay Slater search plunged into confusion over Airbnb phone riddle

Among them is Christopher Pennington, an ex-British military serviceman who relocated to Tenerife in 2006, captivated by the beauty of the Canary Island. Now a property developer, Chris is utilising the expertise he gained in the military and expressed his shock when the official search was halted.

He criticised the police for limiting their search to established paths, presuming Jay did the same. "This area has not been searched properly," he told Mail+, adamant that more thorough efforts are needed, reports the Mirror.

As he navigated the challenging landscape of Parque Rural de Teno, where the search for the apprentice bricklayer has been concentrated, Chris discovered what he believed to be a new 'clue'.

Just days after Spanish cops called it a day, the Brit, who used to be in the British Army, stumbled across a pair of sunglasses with a lens missing, near where the teen's phone last pinged. Some reckon they looked like the ones the 19 year old was snapped wearing at the three-day NRG festival, before he vanished. Chris gave them to the police, who've kept them.

To see things from Jay's point of view, Chris retraced their steps from the party strip on the coast, south of the island. At 5.30am on Saturday, he drove north along the winding road from Papagayo nightclub to the Casa Abuela Tina Airbnb in Masca.

He told Mail+ that he stuck to under 15km an hour, because of the sharp bends. He said: "It's dark, it's extremely dangerous," he said, adding: "Let me be frank, it's scary up here on your own in the darkness."

Chris reckons that after Jay scarpered from the holiday let, he might have taken a wrong turn down the ravine, thinking the coast was nearer than it is. Chris, who is currently involved in the exacting process of search and rescue, describes the perilous scrubland that he's been dealing with. The dense undergrowth is the perfect hiding place and walking through it is challenging to say the least.

He adds: "You can only imagine that he's looked down at the coastline in the distance and thinks it's a lot closer than it really is. And that heading straight through the bush is the quickest route to safety."

Despite the difficult terrain, Chris can't fathom why someone would opt to venture off-road instead of sticking to the path with safer walking conditions. Expressing his incredulity he states: "If Jay came off the path and went through there, like I've just done, he wouldn't leave the path again. You'd have to be mad."

Among the other locals lending their efforts to the search operation is 53 year old Juan Garcia. As well as being part of the team, he also brings along an unusual companion in the form of a canine detective named Caperucita.

Juan accentuates the near impossibility of the task at hand, commenting on the area's labyrinth-like overgrowth which obscures vision from above and denotes an overwhelming challenge. "It's a labyrinth of bushes and you can't see much from the air. We really are looking for a needle in a haystack," he shared.

Shortly before he went missing, Jay phoned his friend Lucy Law, who he was staying with on the south side of the island, to let her know he was trying to return to their hotel, but his phone battery was nearly dead. Lucy recounted that Jay mentioned he was 'thirsty' and lost.

Dad Warren and brother Zak walking along the Juan Lopez Ravine close to Masca, where Jay's phone had last been located before he went missing
Dad Warren and brother Zak walking along the Juan Lopez Ravine close to Masca, where Jay's phone had last been located before he went missing

Additionally, Lucy mentioned that Jay had been injured by a cactus, and another friend Bradley Hargreaves reported hearing Jay fall while they were on the call. Speaking on This Morning, 19 year old Brad was visibly moved as he remembered Jay's "zest for life" and the last promise Jay made to him that he would call back after hanging up because "someone else was ringing him".

Brad shared that initially, Jay wasn't overly concerned about finding his way back when he first became disoriented in Tenerife. On the show, Brad recalled: "He was on the phone and he goes: 'I've got walk and go all down that road'".

Brad also suggested that Jay likely wouldn't have chosen the route he mentioned during their conversation, believing Jay would have opted for a safer path. Brad then disclosed that he heard the sound of Jay's feet sliding on rocks, which led him to conclude that his friend had "went off the road".

He said: "That's how I knew he went off the road because, you know when you walk on gravel, or whatever it is, you can... you know what I mean, stones."

He further commented: "I said: 'put your location on." He said: '15 minute drive, fourteen-hour walk. ' I don't know if it's accurate or not so I said to him: 'it's only a 15-min drive, get a taxi."".

Get all the latest and breaking news in Yorkshire by signing up to our newsletter here.