Missing PJ's family plead for search to continue three weeks in
While the search for missing 34 year-old father of two PJ Fanning seems to be scaling back somewhat three weeks on from his disappearance, his heartbroken family are asking the Wexford public not to give up and are urging volunteers to continue the search.
PJ was last seen in the early hours of the morning on February 24 and his Audi A4 was subsequently discovered in the car park at Ferrycarrig with the keys in the ignition. A large scale search followed and has involved the RNLI, Slaney Search & Rescue, the Civil Defence, the Coast Guard, the garda sub-aqua unit and a plethora of volunteers over the past 22 days.
The sobering drone of the Rescue 117 helicopter could be heard all over Wexford on Thursday as the crew frantically searched for any sign of Ballymitty native. Meanwhile, his partner Mellissa Furlong who is carrying PJ's child, remains at the river bank from morning 'til night, waiting for any news or any glimmer of hope.
'We had the helicopter out once this week,' she said. 'We were let down over the weekend, we had been told they would be out again. Apart from that, things seem to be scaling back a bit. The guards have told us they're going to try and get the divers back down again, but at the same time they're kind of telling us to stop coming out and to look after ourselves.'
Mellissa, however, says that she will not give up until PJ is found and is urging any volunteers, particularly those who have access to boats, to continue the search.
'We were told that somewhere around day 21 could be the day,' an exhausted Mellissa said.
'But now we're looking towards day 23, 24 and 25. We're keeping all eyes on the water. There has been no news at all though. We haven't even found any belongings or anything.'
While Mellissa says that generally the Coast Guard call off searches after 21 days, she's been told that they will continue their work at Ferrycarrig for another few days in the hopes of uncovering something.
In the meantime she says, they are trying to keep things as normal as possible for PJ's and her own kids.
'It's hard to know what to tell the children when we don't know anything ourselves,' she confided. 'They believe that he will be home at some stage. They're staying in school and that at the moment and we're trying to keep things as normal as we can for them.'
While Mellissa and PJ's family have had wonderful support from the people of Wexford so far, she is urging them not to give up.
Anyone who has time to spare to walk the river banks or anyone who has access to a boat is asked to continue the search, particularly on weekdays when volunteers are harder to come by as people return to work.
'We're just hoping and praying that it won't go on into another week,' Mellissa said.