Canadian authorities say four people, including a baby and a teenager, died in frigid conditions and deep snow feet away from the border in what appears to be an attempt to cross into the United States.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Wednesday said the victims were found about 40 feet north of the international border and are believed to be part of a group crossing from Canada into the U.S.
The deaths may be related to a human smuggling operation, Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy said at a news conference: “We’re very concerned that this attempted crossing may have been facilitated in some way and that these individuals, including an infant, were left on their own in the middle of a blizzard.”
Canadian officials believe the group likely died of exposure to extreme cold, as temperatures in the region reach about -30 degrees. The deceased were found near the town of Emerson, Manitoba, which is roughly 150 miles north of Fargo, North Dakota.
The discovery came after U.S. immigration authorities apprehended another group of people who had crossed into the U.S. from Canada.
A search was launched on both sides of the border Wednesday morning, after U.S. authorities relayed that one of the apprehended adults was carrying baby items, although there was no infant with the group.
As of Thursday afternoon, the search on the Canadian side of the border has concluded, MacLatchy told USA TODAY.
The names, nationalities and ages of the deceased individuals have not been confirmed, MacLatchy said.
“It appears they were traveling as a group,” she said. “Whether they were a family or not, we have absolutely no information in that regard.”
The individuals, who would have been traversing agricultural fields filled with waist-high snow, would have faced “white out conditions” and temperatures below -40 Fahrenheit, accounting for wind chill.
MacLatchy added this is the first border crossing going north to south she has seen in her jurisdiction.
Previously, the number of people apprehended for illegally crossing from Canada into the United States along its northern border spiked around 2020, according to federal data. At the time, The Associated Press reported some migrants from Mexico appeared to find the northern border easier to cross than the southern boarder, for a variety of reasons.
Contributing: The Associated Press
Source: GANNETT Syndication Service