Northern Ireland

Missing mother-of-four's body recovered from Foyle after seven-week search

Missing mother-of-four Helena McElhennon's body was recovered from the River Foyle on Tuesday evening.
Missing mother-of-four Helena McElhennon's body was recovered from the River Foyle on Tuesday evening.

THE recovery of a mother-of-four's body from the River Foyle after a seven-week search has been greeted with sadness and relief in her native south Derry.

Helena McElhennon (42) from Draperstown, who had children aged one, five, nine and 10, had been missing since November 24.

A spokesman for the search operation said yesterday: “It is with a sad and heavy heart we tell you that late yesterday evening we found Helena during our daily search.”

A huge operation was launched after Mrs McElhennon’s black Mitsubishi Warrior was found at a lay-by beside the Foyle Bridge in Derry on the day she went missing.

Teams from Lough Neagh Search and Rescue, Search Team North West and a community rescue service joined police and Foyle Search and Rescue on daily searches of the river and its banks.

A crowd-funding social media appeal to raise £3,000 to assist the search met its target within days.

The operation also included direct appeals by Mrs McElhennon’s sister, Teresa Kidd.

The Co Derry woman told how Christmas had been particularly difficult for her sister’s family, with her three older children having been told of what had happened.

The search group has now appealed for privacy for Mrs McElhennon’s family as they try to come to terms with the news.

The spokesman said: “While we always held out hope we would find her alive, unfortunately this was not to be."

SDLP assembly member Patsy McGlone said Mrs McElhennon's disappearance had caused great distress in the Draperstown area where her family was well known and highly respected.

"While there is great sadness at the news that her body was found in the River Foyle, there's also relief in the area for her family. People had been praying that her body would be found," he said.

"No-one who has not been in that situation can understand what the family has been going through.

"My thoughts and prayers are with them and I hope they can find the strength somewhere and I'm sure the community will rally around them as they try to come through this."

A spokesman for Foyle Search and Rescue confirmed its teams were tasked by police to recover a body from the river on Tuesday evening.

“Our thoughts and prayers to the family involved,” he said.