Four people, including a baby, were found frozen to death Wednesday near the U.S.-Canadian border.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office says earlier that day, border patrol agents conducted a traffic stop on 47-year-old Steve Shand of Florida.
Shand was in a rural area between the ports of entry in Lancaster, Minn., and Pembina, N. Dak. about 7 miles from St. Vincent, Minn., and the stop was at 8:30 a.m.
Shand was driving a 15-passenger van with two passengers determined to be undocumented foreign nationals from India.
Border patrol agents rescued a group of five in a blizzard who were walking toward the area Shand was stopped and arrested.
Two among that party needed treatment for serious frostbite injuries, and the group explained that they were expecting to be picked up and had been walking for over 11 hours.
They said there were four others in the group, all members of the same family, that were separated in the night.
One of the detainees had a backpack that belonged to this family, containing a diaper, toys, children’s clothes, and medicine.
Later that day, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported the four bodies found ten yards away from the border, about 1:30 p.m.
The bodies included a man, a woman, a teenage boy and a baby.
The static temperature Tuesday night was 10 below, with at least 30 below wind chills.
“I am saddened there was loss of life and the fact a small child died makes it even more difficult. Our hearts go out to the families and loved ones,” said Grand Forks Sector Chief Patrol Agent Anthony S. Good.
“I am also incredibly proud of the Border Patrol Agents and our RCMP partners who selflessly endured sub-zero temperatures for hours to search for the missing persons. Their dedication to duty and courage is commendable.”
“Anyone thinking of crossing the border illegally in these treacherous conditions should not do it,” added Good. “Smugglers only care about the money they are going to make and have zero regards for lives lost.”
Shand made his first court appearance Thursday and is charged with one count of human smuggling. He will be detained pending a detention hearing Monday.