Border patrol and immigration authorities report a family of four, including two adults, a teen and an infant child, were found near the US-Canada border, frozen to death trying to cross into the U.S. on Wednesday, January 19. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the location was Emerson, Manitoba, where weather was extremely cold going down to -35C (-31F).

Jane MacLatchy from the RCMP called it an “an absolute and heartbreaking tragedy” saying, “What I am about to share is going to be difficult for many people to hear,” adding that the group of people were “on their own in the middle of a blizzard and faced not only the cold weather but endless fields, large snowdrifts, and complete darkness.”

Jane MacLatchy from the RCMP
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Before that at around 09:30 on Wednesday, the US Customs and Border Patrol arrested a group of people in the area trying to cross the US-Canada border illegally. Among them was a man found with items for an infant, but no sign of an infant. After this, a search was ordered on both sides of the border, when the deceased family of four was found frozen to death 40 feet (12 meters) from the border while being smuggled into North Dakota.

US federal officials late on Wednesday released a statement about arresting Steve Shand, a 47-year-old Florida resident on charges of human smuggling. He was smuggling people, driving them in a 15-person van with plenty of sustenance items such as water and food within his vehicle, found 1 mile close to the US-Canada border.

Two passengers were found with him when he was arrested, both identified as undocumented Indian immigrants. Later it was found the deceased family who was found near the border was also of Indian background. While the two immigrants found with Shand were being transported to the US border patrol, the officers found another group of five who told the officers they had been walking for over 11 hours to be picked up by someone.

They had luggage with them too, containing clothes, medication and toys for children, saying they were supposed to see the family of four with whom ”had become separated in the night.” All of those immigrants found so far have been identified as Indian citizens. Those two later found with Shand also sustained injuries while crossing, they were taken to the hospital.