Family of missing Milton man Owen Rooney find 'solace' after seven years of heartache

Owen Rooney and mother Sharron. Photo: Facebook/Help Find Owen Rooney
Owen Rooney and mother Sharron. Photo: Facebook/Help Find Owen Rooney

When Owen Rooney walked out of a Canadian hospital in 2010, his parents could not have anticipated it would be the last time anyone would see the then 24-year-old Milton man.

Now, almost seven years on from his disappearance, Mr Rooney's family have confirmed his remains have been found just three kilometres from the Grand Forks hospital he left on August 14 without his belongings.

The British Columbia Coroners Service on Tuesday said that the Australian electrician's remains were located near Hardy Mountain in June - a 15-minute drive from where Mr Rooney was last seen: Boundary Hospital, just north of the Canada-US border.

Sharron Rooney with daughter Kelly Rooney and son Sean at their family home in Milton. Photo: Tony Karacsonyi

Sharron Rooney with daughter Kelly Rooney and son Sean at their family home in Milton. Photo: Tony Karacsonyi

"While on a training exercise on June 10, 2017, members of the Grand Forks Search and Rescue Unit found what they believed to be human remains in a bush near the bottom of a steep cliff near the base of Hardy Mountain," a statement from the Coroners Service read.

"Post-mortem testing, co-ordinated by the BC Coroners Service Special Investigations Unit, now has confirmed that those remains are those of Mr Rooney."

On Monday, Mr Rooney's mother, Sharron Rooney, announced the grim discovery on the Facebook page set up to help find him.

Owen Rooney went missing in British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Supplied

Owen Rooney went missing in British Columbia, Canada. Photo: Supplied

"We were notified a few weeks ago that human remains were found at Hardy Mountain BC," Ms Rooney wrote on Help Find Owen Rooney.

"We have come together as a family to receive the news via a phone appointment, [that] the DNA results have confirmed it is our Owen.

"Emotionally digesting this news is a challenge. We have taken solace in the fact that we can bring home to us."

Read more: missing persons of the Illawarra and South Coast

Mr Rooney checked himself into Boundary Hospital on August 14, 2010, after being badly beaten. He had been kicked in the head, was bleeding from the ears and had two black eyes.

His mother said he was reported as hallucinating at the time he left hospital, where he was last sighted sitting at a picnic table at 8pm. She insisted his behaviour was out of character.

"The fact that Owen did have a head trauma, we are unsure of his mental capabilities when he walked out of the hospital without his belongings," Ms Rooney said in 2010.

"To do that he would have had to been in some disarray of his mental state."

The Australian man had been hitchhiking from the Shambala music festival near Salmo to nearby Kelowna, just south of Canada's British Columbia province where he was living at the time.

Mr Rooney had been employed at the Big White ski resort in Kelowna for two seasons before his disappearance, where he had been working with his sisters.

"We are so grateful to everyone here for your love and support," Ms Rooney said.

"This has given us the ability to continue our connection, perseverance and strength till this day.

"We thank the Grand Forks Search and Rescue for their bravery and diligence in bringing Owen home to us."

Investigations into the cause and manner of Mr Rooney's death continue.

smh.com.au