RCMP in Manitoba say four individuals were found dead near Emerson Wednesday morning, and it is quite likely they froze to death.
At 9:23 am, RCMP officers with the Integrated Border Enforcement Team received concerning information from their counterparts in the United States. Officers were told that the US Customs and Border Protection had apprehended a group of individuals who had crossed by foot into the United States from Canada. Officers were told that one of the adults had items meant for an infant, yet no infant was with that group.
A search was immediately launched on both sides of the border. Police say extensive patrols were conducted and at approximately 1:30 pm, the bodies of three individuals were located on the Canadian side of the border, approximately 10 kilometres east of Emerson. They have been identified as an adult male, an adult female and an infant.
Fearing there may be additional victims, officers continued their search and located the body of an additional male, believed to be in his mid-teens. All victims were located approximately 40 feet from the Canada/ US border.
Police say it appears they all died due to exposure to the cold weather. Work is underway to identify the victims and an autopsy has been scheduled to confirm the cause of death.
The search for any possible survivors or additional victims continued throughout the evening on Wednesday and RCMP officers continue to patrol the area today. To date, no other victims have been located.
The RCMP will be conducting a thorough investigation and is working in close collaboration with US Customs and Border Protection and the US Department of Homeland Security.
Assistant Commissioner Jane Maclatchy says police are very concerned that this attempted crossing may have been facilitated in some way. She notes the individuals were left on their own in the middle of a blizzard when the temperature hovered around -35 degrees.
"These victims faced not only the cold weather but also endless fields, large snowdrifts in complete dark," she adds.
Maclatchy says they do not know how these individuals got to Emerson, but their investigators will attempt to find out. She adds criminal charges are possible for the person or people connected to this if there are any.