THE family of missing Scottish holidaymaker James Mercer, who is believed to have disappeared while swimming in the sea off the Playa de Muro last Sunday afternoon have not given up hope of finding him alive.
The brothers, William and Mitchell, and step-children of the 52-year-old from Clun in Shropshire, flew over to Majorca as soon as they heard the news last weekend to offer support to James's wife Susan and also help in the search.
Initially it was reported that James, a strong swimmer failed to return after swimming in rough seas, but step-daughter Amy told the Bulletin yesterday that she has spoken to the two life guards, who were on duty in the area at the time, and they are adamant the sea was very calm.
They're just as confused as we are, she said.
We have been told that the sea was very rough and that James apparently ignored the warning flags on the beach.
But according to people in the area, last Sunday was the best day, weather wise, of the whole week. It is the fact that it was a calm day that has boosted the family's hopes that James could still be alive.
CHANCE Perhaps we're clutching at straws, but we think there is a chance that he may have suffered a bump to the head, or something, but made it ashore somewhere else down the coast, Amy said. He may then have wandered off and got lost, even perhaps lost his memory or had a nervous breakdown. He's a very fit and healthy person, he's been a builder all his life, Amy added.
The air sea rescue service called off their search with helicopters and rescue vessels last night, five days after the hunt began, but Guardia Civil divers are going to continue working in the area until Monday.
James, his wife and a couple were staying at the Alcudia Pins Hotel and James had gone for an afternoon swim just a few yards down the beach from the hotel. Susan and their friends were on the terrace, they could see James and were keeping a vague eye on him. There is a buoy just less than a couple of hundred yards out and he was swimming around that, so at least we could give the search teams a set point to work from, she said. One minute he was there and the next he wasn't, she added. The family have put together a poster with James's picture and local contact numbers on and have spent the past few days putting the posters up in the Alcudia and C'an Picafort area. We've been talking to the fishermen in C'an Picafort and the next few fishing villages along the coast, they've all got posters and they're all keeping an eye out for him, Amy said.
They are hoping to talk to the people who run the little ferry which runs across the bay to the Playa de Muro he was swimming near the pick-up jetty, someone may have seen him, she said. We know that everything possible has been done in the search at sea, but now we are going to focus our attentions on land. That is why we're putting his posters up all over the place, just in case someone recognises him or remembers swimming near him last Sunday at around 4pm, she explained. We're not giving up hope just yet. We're going to keep up the search until next weekend. We've even been to a few local building sites just in case, you never know.
James and Susan had only arrived the day before at the start of a two week holiday which was to end with a cruise.
Jim was born in Fife, Scotland but was brought up in Bolton. He talks with a very heavy Northern accent, Amy added.
James and Susan married seven years ago and live in Clun, Shropshire.
Jack Limond, landlord of James Mercer's local pub told the Daily Record that James was very popular in the town. The British Consulate in Palma are providing all the help and support they can while maintaining close contact with the search teams and the police.
The family are asking anybody who thinks they have seen James Mercer to contact the Guardia Civil (062) or the Alcudia Pins hotel (971 89 03093)