British Columbia

Missing Australian Owen Rooney found dead in B.C. after 7 years

The remains of an Australian man who went missing in B.C. nearly seven years ago have been found in Grand Forks.

24-year-old was last seen walking out of the Grand Forks hospital after treatment for head injuries

Owen Rooney had been missing since August 2010.

The remains of an Australian man who went missing in B.C. nearly seven years ago have been found in Grand Forks.

Twenty-four-year-old Owen Rooney disappeared in August 2010 after wandering out of the small Boundary Hospital in Grand Forks, a small community near the U.S. border.

His family spent months searching Western Canada for their lost son, who had left both his wallet and backpack at the hospital. The family stayed in close contact with B.C. authorities after returning to Australia, hoping for word that the young man was safe.

But those hopes have been dashed. Sharron Rooney confirmed in a Facebook post this week that human remains found recently near Hardy Mountain belong to her son.

"We have come together as a family to receive the news via a phone appointment. The DNA results have confirmed it is our Owen. Emotionally digesting this news is a challenge. We take solace in the fact that we can bring him home to us," she wrote.

The B.C. Coroners Service has confirmed the news, saying the remains were found June 10 by members of Grand Forks Search and Rescue Unit, conducting a training exercise.

Hardy Mountain is within Grand Forks but consists of a steep band of cliffs and forested hills. It's located about three kilometres from the hospital in the centre of the community.

A family's nightmare

Owen Rooney had been at a ski resort before his Canadian adventure became his family's nightmare.

Rooney's remains were found near Hardy Mountain in Grand Forks.

With his work visa about to expire, Rooney spent his last summer in Kelowna hanging out with his two sisters, who had joined him in Canada.

The Shambhala electronic music festival in Salmo, near Nelson, was supposed to be his last blast before he went home, but a bad drug reaction put him in the harm reduction tent for most of the weekend.

When Rooney missed a ride back to Kelowna, he found himself alone.

On Aug. 12, he stopped in the small tourist town of Christina Lake where police say he was assaulted at a party, eventually ending up in the Grand Forks hospital with head injuries. On Aug. 14, he disappeared after leaving the hospital.

Rooney's family left their lives behind in Australia to chase down dozens of leads from a motel in the Boundary region, but none led them any closer to finding their missing son.