British Columbia

Missing backpacker sparks family search in B.C.

An Australian family is travelling across B.C.'s southern Interior searching for their son, who disappeared mysteriously after turning up injured at a hospital two weeks ago.

An Australian family is travelling across B.C.'s southern Interior searching for their son, who disappeared mysteriously after turning up injured at a hospital two weeks ago.

When Owen Rooney, 24, showed up at the hospital in Grand Forks in mid-August he had two black eyes. But he either couldn't, or didn't want to, say how he got them.

His mother, Sharron Rooney, said he then left the hospital and seemingly just disappeared.

"He walked out of the hospital without his backpack, and that is the last word we have about his whereabouts at all," she told CBC News.

Sharron, her husband and their two daughters recently arrived in B.C. to search for Owen. They are retracing his footsteps, handing out fliers and talking to people who met him.

"He has a wide network of friends and family who love him very much, so it is very unusual that he would walk out and leave everything. His bank account hasn't been touched," she said.

Police also baffled

Rooney is described five-foot-nine and 160 pounds, with a kangaroo tattoo on his right calf and an Australian accent.

Grand Forks RCMP Staff Sgt. Jim Harrison said police are equally baffled, but they are still chasing leads.

"The way to put it very clearly is, there is always hope. We're kind of clinging to the hope that he's out there travelling around, unaware anybody is concerned about him or considers him a missing person," Harrison said.

The Rooney family said they continue to cling to that hope and have put off their return to Australia for another month to continue their search.

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