The jacket of a British girl missing in Guatemala has been found on a mountain trail around two miles from where she was last seen.
Catherine Shaw, 23, vanished from the ‘eco hotel’ where she was staying in a popular backpacking destination on the country’s Lake Atitlan in the early hours of last Tuesday morning.
Tomorrow marks a week since her disappearance with her father, Tarquin, due to arrive in the Central American country later tonight.
Miss Shaw, a former yoga teacher, was last captured on CCTV at 5.23am on Tuesday morning leaving the budget hotel where she was staying in the village of San Juan La Laguna, clutching a grey and white puppy.
News of her disappearance only broke over the weekend and it is not believed that officials from the British embassy have so far visited the area where she was staying.
Catherine Shaw, 23, vanished from the ‘eco hotel’ where she was staying on Guatemala’s Lake Atitlan in the early hours of last Tuesday morning
Last night, a search party found a distinctive jacket belonging to Miss Shaw, who is originally from Witney in Oxfordshire
Her father Tarquin, pictured, is due to land in the Central American country later this evening to help with the search effort
On Sunday evening, a search party organised by volunteers found a distinctive jacket belonging to Miss Shaw, from Witney, Oxfordshire.
It came just hours after Miss Shaw’s parents Ann and Tarquin admitted in an appeal that they were ‘desperately worried’ for their daughter’s safety.
The woollen pink and cream jacket was found among leaves near a line of avocado trees on the hiking trail near a hill known as ‘Indian Nose’.
In an interview with the Mail, Paco Rosales, who travelled to Guatemala from Mexico to help find his friend said he immediately recognised the coat – and burst into tears when he was shown a picture of the item.
Mr Rosales, travelled to the area after receiving a panicked text from Miss Shaw’s mother on Friday. ‘I got instantly worried about it,’ he added.
Mr Rosales, 35, said of the jacket’s significance: ‘I asked her to throw it away. She said she was too emotionally attached to it. She wore it through California and Mexico.
‘I told her: “You need to get another jacket”, and she was like: “No, I really love it”.’
‘It was one of her favourite items of clothing. It was really warm, that’s why she always kept it. She didn’t care about the way she looked,’ he added.
He last saw his friend around six weeks ago in Mexico. ‘I think she was probably in an emotional time, where you question yourself, you question life – we all have those times,’ he said.
Miss Shaw, a former yoga teacher, was last captured on CCTV at 5.23am on Tuesday morning leaving the budget hotel where she was staying
Catherine’s friend Paco Rosales, who shared this post on Facebook, said he immediately recognised the coat – and burst into tears when he was shown a picture of the item
It was ‘so normal’ for Miss Shaw to set off at 5.30am to watch the sun rise, he noted, adding that the pair had regularly done this in the past in India.
Breaking down, Mr Rosales says he still ‘has hope’ the British backpacker will be found alive.
Friends of Miss Shaw have set up a donation page on Facebook to help fund search and rescue efforts on the ground – including chartering a helicopter to search miles of heavy woodland.
But their efforts are being hampered by Facebook which says it takes seven days to release the funds, a time frame Mr Rosales described as ‘ridiculous’.
The Mail joined a search team of volunteers on Sunday with two drones scouring the area as well as some 15 locals and expats on foot. Around five police officers also joined in the effort.
The wooded hiking spot where searchers believe Catherine may have gone to watch the sunrise involves climbing extremely rocky terrain for around an hour. Searchers believe Miss Shaw may have taken on the feat bare foot.
At the top of the mountain, there is a covered vista point which may serve as a shelter for the night.
Amy Farrow, 37, a former American paramedic helping to lead the rescue effort, spent yesterday morning trawling through CCTV at the Eco-hotel Mayachik where Miss Shaw was last seen.
She said: ‘She leaves (the hotel) at 5.23am with the puppy on Tuesday morning. It is very common for people to go and walk to see the sunrise there.
The wooded hiking spot where searchers believe Catherine may have gone to watch the sunrise involves climbing extremely rocky terrain for around an hour
‘The puppy was found on Friday…It was Ok, a little undernourished and crying a lot.’
In the days before her disappearance, Miss Shaw had been on a ‘spiritual quest’, Miss Farrow, who lives locally, said.
The mountain can be climbed from two different angles – the jumper was found in one spot while the little puppy Miss Shaw had been carrying hours before was found in another.
A helicopter is due to scour the local area and items of Miss Shaw’s clothing given to search dogs in the hope they might pick up the missing traveller’s scent today.
An avid traveller, she has been backpacking since September through California, Mexico and now Guatemala.
Mr Rosales said she had felt ‘so blessed’ to explore the local area, adding: ‘She is very spiritual, she was feeling in that wave of so in tune with the universe, a lot of positive things were happening to her.’
She had spent much of her time with an Italian woman, Elena Consolini, who reported her as missing.