Rain dampens search volunteers but not their efforts

Mona Mattei
By Mona Mattei
October 25th, 2010

Volunteers assisted search and rescue teams in the third ground search for missing 24-year-old Owen Rooney in Grand Forks on Saturday in hopes of finding some clues in the disappearance of the Australian. Rooney has been missing for two-and-a-half months, and was last seen at the Boundary Hospital where he had been treated for a head injury.

  The search, headed by Grand Forks Search and Rescue, was aided by nearby search and rescue groups from South Columbia and Castlegar, along with over 50 volunteers and Rooney’s family.  The teams conducted the search on foot, horseback, and by air. They covered the Trans Canada Trail and the North Fork Road areas north of Grand Forks. Barry Savitskoff, rescue manager for the Grand Forks group explained that this search was a typical one for their team.  “We’ll keep an eye for clues, for digging – anything we can find – clothes, etc.,” said Savitskoff. “I’ve been at this for 21 years, it’s a typical search, and we’re just trying to find clues.”  Staff Sergeant Jim Harrison of the Grand Forks RCMP detachment explained that they are searching for clues as to Rooney’s whereabouts after the man went missing in August from the Boundary Hospital.  “It will be basically a grid search throughout the area,” said Harrison. “This is the third search that we’ve done in the area, so we’re continuing to search. We’re hoping. Certainly at this point this is a speculative search because we don’t have any solid information that he’s in the area.”  Owen’s mother, Sharon, father and two sisters were at the search on Saturday to help out. Sharon said that they have been in Canada for two months looking for their son.  “Today we’ve had just the absolute best response from the people of Grand Forks to help us to look for him and see if we can find where he is or where he’s been, or someone who knows something about him,” said Sharon.  The family has been happy with the support they have received from the RCMP, and other community members in their search. Her hope is to finally find Owen and take him home.  Rooney was living in Kelowna and was passing through Grand Forks on his way home from Shambala Music Festival in Salmo when he went missing. He was last seen at the Boundary Hospital where he left his personal belongings. RCMP inquiries have included all businesses and community agencies throughout the Kootenay and Boundary area along Highway 3 and Highway 33 and into Kelowna.  Owen Rooney is described as 5’9″ and 160 lbs, very short brown hair, with bruising on his face. He was last seen wearing a dark T-shirt and 3/4 shorts.  RCMP ask the general public to take note of the posters of Owen Rooney that have been distributed and posted in various communities and are requesting that anyone who may have seen Owen Rooney to contact the Grand Forks Office at 250-442-8288, their local police services or via Crimestoppers at 1-800-222-8477.   
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