The family of Dean Millar were last night said to be heartbroken as searches continue along the River Foyle for the missing 18-years-old.
Relatives and friends of the Creggan teenager have been joined by a team of volunteers in searches along the river since Sunday.
The young man’s uncle, Paddy McDaid, said the family was grateful to all those who had volunteered and assisted with the search and he urged anyone else who can help to join them.
Dean was last seen in the Brandywell area of the city at around 12.20 a.m. on Sunday.
His uncle said Dean had been with friends and left to go home, but was shortly afterwards spotted on CCTV in the Abercorn Road area of the city at 12.40 a.m.
Mr McDaid said there were reports that someone entered the river in the vicinity of Craigavon Bridge minutes later and indications were the person was most likely Dean.
Speaking to the ‘Journal ‘ yesterday, Mr McDaid said: “It’s been really heartbreaking for the family.
“We are trying to get him back now to see if we can get a wee bit of closure.”
Mr. McDaid said the Community Search & Rescue organisation incorporated the search for Dean while conducting a sonar search of the river for young Jack Glenn at the weekend.
Jack (22) entered the river almost six weeks ago and searches have been ongoing ever since.
Mr. McDaid said the ‘Get Jack Back’ search team “have been very, very supportive and have helped us out”.
He added: “I want to thank everyone who has helped. I put it on Facebook and with so many people turning out on Sunday night, I was speechless.
“This morning we have had people offering food and other help. There’s much despair in this town, but so much good as well.
“We are conducting our searches now between out ‘The Line’ and at the Prehen Playing Fields as far as Craigavon Bridge. From there down to the Peace Bridge and then from the Peace Bridge to Sainsbury’s.”
The meeting points for the search team are at Foyle Valley Railway during the daytime and in the evenings at the car park on Foyle Street.
A ‘Help Get Dean Home’ Facebook Page has been set up and the hashtag #helpgetdeanhome is also being used online to raise awareness of the searches.
Mr. McDaid said it was absolutely “paramount” that anyone volunteering in the search takes steps to ensure their own safety.
“That has to be the foremost consideration,” he said. “We would urge people to make sure they don’t get themselves in danger. It is not going to change our situation, but it’s important people don’t put their own lives in danger.
“If anyone is coming out to help us if they can wear bright clothing and high visibility vests on. We will be trying to accommodate as much as we can.
“We would also urge people to keep an eye out and if they see anything to contact the Emergency Services or a member of the search team.”
Officially, Dean has been designated a missing person and police have appealed for anyone who may have any information to contact officers on the telephone number 101.
Dean was last seen wearing a grey tracksuit with black coat and is described as being around 5’8” tall, small/medium build with brown hair and green eyes.
Anyone taking part in the searches has been urged to heed the following advice, issued by Foyle Search & Rescue in connection with previous searches: Always stay in a group; Carry a mobile phone; Be careful along the river’s edge and do not enter the glar/ mud. You may become stuck and need rescued; Do not cross over any railings riverside under any circumstances; Do not cross over onto or walk along rail tracks; In the event of finding any items of clothing etc: do not touch or remove. Please contact the PSNI on 101 who will in turn alert Foyle Search & Rescue; wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions; It is recommend that persons searching wear high Viz clothing to enable boat crew to observe them on River Bank; People who are searching are reminded that the River Bank is extremely hazardous after dark.
To keep up to date with the searches and timings see Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/helpgetdeanhome/.
*The Lifeline helpline is open 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Anyone of any age living in the north can call Lifeline free of charge on 0808 808 8000 if they are experiencing distress or despair.
When you phone Lifeline you can talk to a professionally trained counsellor, who will listen and give help and support, in confidence.