Woman still missing in Bray

 

The search for a woman who went missing from a nursing home in Bray, Co Wicklow, on Christmas Day has been scaled back.

Garda, Civil Defence and Coast Guard personnel and local people could find no trace of Maura Reynolds (78) during five days of searching.

The search, which had focused on the town and Bray Head, was called off yesterday and attention shifted to the sea.

George Reynolds said he feared his mother had been missing for so long that she was probably dead.

Garda sources said hundreds of calls from members of the public, many from people believing they had seen the missing woman, had been received.

There have been reported sightings of her from as far away as Tralee, Co Kerry.

Some members of the public had even sent in photograph stills taken from CCTV footage which they believed captured her on film.

Ms Reynolds, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease and severe dementia, has cancer of the spine and is unable to walk long distances. She is described as 5ft 4in in height with white hair and a slight stoop.

She was last seen by a staff member at the Tara Nursing Home, Putland Road, Bray, late on Christmas Day after spending the day with her family.

It is believed she dressed herself in a purple suit and left the nursing home late on Christmas night.

The missing woman was originally from Balally Drive, off Sandyford Road in south Dublin. A search of her former home and surrounding area yielded nothing.

Media coverage generated a considerable volume of calls to Bray Garda station.

After having searched in and around the town a number of times in the last week, gardaí decided that their time would be used most effectively by following up all calls from members of the public.

They now believe it is unlikely that the missing woman took a lift from the area in a car, as had been thought possible in recent days.

One Garda source said that, despite her illnesses and age, Ms Reynolds was a very independent person.

"If you had stopped her and asked her where she was going she would have been very alert and would have known what she was about," the source said.

A team of 20 gardaí, supported by a 60-strong Civil Defence team, had been involved in the search around Bray.

Many areas, particularly those around the Tara Nursing Home, were searched up to five times.

Despite appeals from gardaí to local residents returning to the Bray area after a Christmas break away to check their homes and outhouses, nothing conclusive has emerged.