'My beautiful, funny baby' - mum's tribute to tragic Elisha
The heartbroken mother of the Tipperary teen whose body was recovered from the River Suir has paid an emotional tribute to the search volunteers who helped locate Elisha Gault (14).
Grainne Gault had used social media for eight days in a desperate bid to focus public attention on locating her missing daughter and bringing her home safe and well.
Tragically, Elisha's body was recovered from the River Suir by the Waterford-based Irish Coast Guard helicopter, Rescue 117, at around 7pm on Sunday evening.
The teen, who vanished on St Patrick's Day, was found some 8km downstream of Carrick-on-Suir, at a stretch of river known as Killowen and which divides Waterford and Kilkenny between Fiddown and Mooncoin.
Grainne posted a special photo of Elisha on her Facebook page and entitled it: "My beautiful, funny, intelligent baby."
She paid a moving "thank you" to the hundreds of people who had searched for Elisha since March 18.
"Our baby girl has been recovered - thank you all for your efforts in bringing her home to us," she said. "We can now lay her to rest."
In her social media post, Grainne said her entire family had been left heartbroken by how the search ended.
Elisha's school, Comeragh College, was opened despite the Easter holidays so that shocked students and parents could receive support and counselling over the tragedy.
Comeragh College principal Kevin Langton described Elisha's death as "a terrible tragedy".
"We are deeply saddened. Our sympathy and thoughts are with Elisha's family and friends," he said.
"Elisha was a third year student with us and will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
"We have been in contact with her parents and they have requested that we all understand their need for privacy at this difficult time.
"Offers of support have been pouring in and are greatly appreciated.
"Our school has implemented our critical incident management plan - psychologists from the National Education Psychological Service have been in contact with us today to support and advise teachers in their efforts to assist our students at this time.
"Our teachers have been helping students to deal with the tragic event - the school has been open to students and parents to support them and to offer them advice and guidance."
Elisha was positively identified at University Hospital Waterford shortly after her body was recovered from the River Suir.
The Office of the State Pathologist was notified and a full post-mortem examination was scheduled to be conducted.
Elisha's body will be released back to her family when the post-mortem is concluded.
Funeral details were not expected to be confirmed before today.
Gardai are currently liaising with Elisha's parents, Grainne and Cameron, and her extended family who have supported a massive search operation for her over the past eight days.
The incident is being treated as a tragedy.
The devastated Gault family is now being comforted by friends and neighbours.
Elisha's discovery came just hours after her heartbroken family had pleaded with the public to contact gardai if they spotted anything unusual, no matter how trivial, as they marked one week since her disappearance.
Elisha left her home at New Street in Carrick-on-Suir between 9pm and 10pm on St Patrick's Day.
She was last spotted on Dillon Bridge, not far from her home, at around 10.10pm.
Elisha was alone when last seen on CCTV camera footage.
The teen had left home without a coat and without her mobile phone.