Search for missing Aussie moves to Alberta

By Contributor
January 3rd, 2011

By: Ethan Baron, The Province Family members of a young Australian man missing in B.C. after a severe beating are expanding their search to Alberta. Owen Rooney’s parents, two sisters and brother are headed by car and plane to Calgary (last week). “We feel that he is alive,” said his mother, Sharron Rooney, 55. “I’ve never really felt that he’s gone, I don’t know if that’s just a mother’s hope. We’ve really done a lot of work in B.C. and now the next thing is going into the next province.” Rooney, 24, spent last winter working at Big White ski resort then remained in Kelowna with his sisters. He vanished Aug. 14 following traumatic incidents his family believe may have damaged his mental abilities. In early August he attended the Shambhala Music Festival near Nelson and ended up spending much of the four-day event in the medical tent after taking psilocybin mushrooms, his mother said. “Apparently he went into some sort of paranoia state from the mushrooms.”Rooney made his way to Christina Lake, looking for friends, and reportedly insisting his girlfriend was in a house there. On Aug. 12, he was beaten outside a Christina Lake home. His mother said she spoke with two men who said one of them had punched Rooney. “The neighbours said it was a very vicious assault. The guys said they just punched him up because he tried to come into their house.” Badly bruised on the face and temples and bleeding inside his ears, Rooney checked into hospital in nearby Grand Forks, where he was observed to be hallucinating, his mother said. He disappeared the next day without being discharged, leaving his backpack and hoodie. Rooney had no history of drug abuse, criminality or mental illness, and had come to Canada on a work visa, Sharron said. His parents arrived from Australia a week after he went missing, and his brother came just before Christmas. They’ve received several reports that Rooney was travelling with a group of people selling dream catchers door to door on Vancouver Island, and more recently in Grande Prairie, Alta. Police in Grand Prairie have told them they don’t believe the man sighted was Rooney. The girlfriend Rooney met in Kelowna lives in Grande Prairie, but told the family he hadn’t contacted her since before he vanished. For more information go to www.find-owen.comebaron@theprovince.com

Reproduced with permission from PostMedia News

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