Jay Slater: 'Massive' search for missing Brit ends up with just six volunteers

Missing Jay Slater
-Credit: (Image: Instagram)

Today's search for the missing Lancashire teenager Jay Slater in Tenerife has seen a low turnout, with just six volunteers, including a British TikToker, responding to the Spanish police's call for assistance. The 19-year-old vanished on June 17 in the northwest of the island, and hopes were high that the fresh search would shed light on his disappearance.

Despite widespread publicity, the response from the local community has been minimal, with only a handful of volunteers joining nearly 30 professional searchers comprising police, fire brigade, and mountain rescue teams as they enter the 13th day of operations.

Cipriano Martin, who leads the Civil Guard's Greim mountain rescue unit, commented on the low volunteer numbers: "Well, we've been searching for lots of days and with the search today, we're talking about 30 people."

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The Guardia Civil had issued an appeal on Friday for volunteer groups and individuals skilled in navigating challenging terrain to join a "busqueda masiva" or massive search scheduled for Saturday. Starting from the village of Masca, close to where Jay was last seen, the operation aimed to cover difficult ground, including steep rocky areas, ravines, and various trails.

Known to have spent the night in a Masca Airbnb, situated in Teno Rural Park, Jay was last seen by the lodging proprietor after asking about the next bus back to his southern Tenerife companions. This occurred post-revelry with two other men in the south of the island, reports the Mirror.

He planned to return on foot, an approximately 11-hour journey, as he revealed to his friends Lucy Law and Brad Hargreaves during a phone call.

The search party this morning included Spanish army reservists, a local mother, and Bedfordshire-based British TikToker, Paul Arnott, aged 29. Arnott, who is in contact with Jay's family including his distraught mother Debbie Duncan, 55, responded when asked about the turnout and accusations of under-publicity in local media: "I think the exposure has been really good."

"I've had loads of people that say they're going to come because they've seen my posts and the police, so personally from my point of view I think it's been brilliant. It's what the family wanted and that's what I'm interested in - helping the family."

On queries about Jay's relatives and whether they might partake in the day's search, he added: "They've said I'm doing a good job and I'm making them proud."

"I wouldn't want them to come out here. It's the worst terrain ever. I wouldn't want my family coming out here, no chance. They're broken. I admire them so much for their strength. It's the worst situation any family could be in. It's horrible."

He continued: "I've been checking loads of different areas and some days I've been with the police and mountain rescue who have told me where to go to search. We spoke to Brad and we know that Jay has been sliding down the mountains so I'm looking for slide marks. I've got a picture of his shoes on my phone and I'm looking for any breakages in the plant material. Just any evidence that he has been through this way."

Another volunteer, Livia Karczewski, 40, voiced her reasons for helping saying it's because she also has a 19 year old son. She is an experienced hiker who learned about the search on Facebook and felt moved to participate.

She added: "I have a son the same age and if something happened to him I would like to think people would come to help find him. It really hits home. I am experienced but not an expert so I will search the paths. It is difficult terrain so you need to be prepared."

Army reservist Juan Garcia, with mountain search and rescue experience, was driven to assist after reading about Jay's predicament in the local newspaper. The 53-year-old, who brought along his podenco-cross hunting dog Caperucita, characterised the area as "difficult" and likened it to a "labyrinth".

He warned: "This landscape can be very dangerous. I am from the island so we are used to this kind of landscape. If you search maybe we are lucky and we find him. We have to put a lot of effort to look slowly, it is like a labyrinth, there's a lot of bushes so it's easy to miss something, especially with the helicopter and drones. That's why you have to walk and I brought my dog in case he can smell something, but it's not an easy task."

Brad, a friend of Jay's, shared on ITV's This Morning about a video call he had with Jay before his vanishing where he heard him go off course. He said: "He was on the phone walking down a road and he'd gone over a little bit not a big drop but a tiny little drop and he was going down, and he said 'I'll ring ya back, I'll ring ya back' because I think someone else was ringing him."

Brad could see his mate's feet "sliding" down the hill and could hear gravel crunching under his footsteps. Despite both laughing at that time, Brad confirmed that he didn't feel worried till they figured how far Jay had gone.

On the same TV program, he expressed hope for Jay's safe return and said he was "praying" for him. Earlier this week, his mother, Debbie Duncan, who came to the island following his mysterious disappearance, mentioned that funds raised online would aid mountain rescue teams, as well as her food and accommodation expenses.