Darren Kay was last seen on Sunday December 11
Authorities in Madeira have ceased all searches for missing British fell runner Darren Kay, ‘an elite athlete’ who simply disappeared on the last leg of a long run near Calheta, where he was staying with his partner Victoria.
Mr Kay, 52, thus becomes the 4th seemingly ‘extremely fit and able’ tourist who has vanished without trace in the island’s mountains over the last two years.
This is what makes his disappearance even more devastating. Accidents involving tourists exploring Madeira’s hillside walks are not uncommon, but situations in which they disappear altogether, leaving absolutely no clues as to what may have happened, are not (or perhaps, have not been, until now).
The common thread linking the disappearances of Polish mountain trail runner Michel Kozek, 35, German Jascha Paul Hardenberg, 28, French traveller Benoit Way, 35, and now Darren Kay is that they were all out on their own when they went missing.
Michel Kozek, Jascha Paul Hardenberg and Darren Kay are connected by location: the three went missing in the Calheta area. Benoit Way seems to have gone missing on the other side of the island, but may have been walking towards Calheta (no one knows).
Family members of all four men have been involved in the various searches – in the case of Michel Kozek, his brother Krzysztof has reportedly returned to the region on a number of occasions, unable to fully accept that his brother appears to have ‘gone for good’.
Darren Kay’s brother Jonny has also been heavily involved in these latest searches, sending out an email last weekend saying the family will continue looking for their loved one (for how long is unclear).
In the meantime, a GoFundMe campaign set up to help fund search efforts has collected over the €10,000 target.
What made the searches for Darren Kay doubly difficult was that the route he took, for what was meant to be ‘another 30 minute run’ (having already run around two hours with his partner), is very unclear. He had reportedly talked of wanting to see the waves, said local reports. Did he want to see them from ‘high up above’, or did he mean to run down towards the sea? If the latter, Jornal Madeira has remarked that the sea was “very rough on December 11”, which also made searches “difficult”.