Remembering Aaron Derbyshire: 13 years since Kelowna man disappeared without a trace | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Remembering Aaron Derbyshire: 13 years since Kelowna man disappeared without a trace

Aaron Charles Derbyshire went missing in Kelowna on Sept. 20, 2006.
Image Credit: Submitted/CrimeStoppers
October 07, 2019 - 3:30 PM

KELOWNA - It was 13 years ago this week that Aaron Derbyshire vanished from in front of Level nightclub in downtown Kelowna and questions about where he went, who he was with and why he never went home remain unanswered.

“The investigation remains open and as tips are received or new leads developed they are pursued,” Meghan Foster with the West Kelowna RCMP said.

“If there is anyone with information about Aaron Derbyshire or his whereabouts, they are asked to contact their local police.”

This request for tips about the then-22-year-old’s last known movements has been made before, sometimes in press conferences, other times with just a news release. This year it was left to family, who put out a facebook post.

“I know this does not get much media attention anymore, but I believe that we have to keep Aaron’s name and story alive in the public,” Derbyshire’s cousin, Nicole Hamelin wrote in the post, marking the anniversary of his disappearance.

The quest for answers to questions left lingering for more than a decade isn’t necessarily to find a happy ending to their family’s tragic tale, she explained later.

“For me, I’ve come to the realization that there’s not going to be a reunion — we won’t see him come back to our family alive and well,” Hamelin said. “It would be nice to have closure and have that peace and say those goodbyes.”

Then again, she said, there’s always that thought in the back of her mind that things may just turn out differently.

“People have been gone for years and years and come back alive,” she said. “So, you never know.”

This back and forth highlights the unique grief facing the people who have the most riding on solving missing persons cases.

“Because that unknowing is there, you can never grieve fully,” she said. “For myself, there’s a sense of loss and missing. But there are times we feel frustrated that after 13 years we are still no closer to answers… Thirteen years ago when this happened, I never thought I would be here today, without answers.”

Hamelin and her brother were close with Derbyshire and for her brother, he was more like a sibling than a cousin.

They were supposed to meet up the night of Derbyshire’s disappearance, but text messages her brother sent that night were never answered.

Derbyshire’s bank account shows that no money was ever removed from his account and no other paper trace has been found.

The RCMP said the cameras that usually would have been on at Level Nightclub were out of service that night, so there’s not even a shot of him leaving the bar.

The family was told that someone had seen him get into a cab in front of the bar and that maybe he went to a party.

Nothing came from either tip.

And their personal searches came up empty, too.

“For several weekends in a row, we went downtown and handed out flyers, asked around in bars,” she said. “Myself and my husband searched every side area of the Coquihalla, walking and looking around. We found nothing. 

"As a family we are never giving up and looking for answers, but that void in the family is there.”

Derbyshire, she said, was just a “great kid.”

“He was always positive and always there for everyone,” she said. 

He was sick a fair bit in his early teens with Crohn's disease and at one point, there was concern he wouldn’t survive. He did, however, and by 17 years old he started to really live his life and by 22 everything was seemingly coming together.

“He had a good girlfriend and had studied civil engineering in school — he was literally start of life, planning to get engaged, living on his own working and starting his career,” Hamelin said.

“It was going well.”

He’d be 35 today, and what direction his life would have taken him is anyone’s guess. Hamelin just knows that he’s never far from mind for her or the others who remember him.

“Hopefully keeping his name out there and his story going will (prompt) someone to call,” she said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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