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Canadian authorities confirm identities of family who froze to death in border crossing incident

The family was part of a larger group of Indian nationals who walked across the border.

Border death family
39-year-old Jagdish Patel, his 37-year-old wife Vaishali, and their children, 11-year-old Vihanngi and 3-year-old Dharmik. Photo courtesy of Vibes of India
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GRAND FORKS — The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have confirmed the identities and cause of death of a family of four Indian nationals who died trying to walk across the U.S.-Canadian border on Jan. 19.

According to a Jan. 27 RCMP release, the official cause of death of the family is exposure.

After working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as Indian consular officials, the RCMP has identified the victims as Jagdishkumar Patel, a 39-year-old male, Vaishaliben Patel, a 37-year-old female and their children Vihangi Patel, an 11-year-old girl and Dharmik Patel, a 3-year-old boy.

The family was part of a larger group of Indian nationals who walked across the border. Seven of those individuals were apprehended after they crossed into the U.S. last Wednesday, and U.S. Border Patrol agents arrested Steve Shand on a charge of human smuggling. Shand was later granted conditional release from detention, while the surviving Indian nationals will likely be removed from the country.

The RCMP confirmed the Patel family arrived in Toronto on Jan. 12, and then made their way to Emerson, Manitoba, just north of the border crossing at Pembina, North Dakota, on or about Jan. 18. No abandoned vehicle was found on the Canadian side of the border, indicating they were dropped off there by another person.

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The RCMP is continuing its investigation and is searching for anyone who may have come into contact with the family as they traveled across Canada. Canadians who have information about this investigation can contact the Manitoba RCMP Major Crime Services at 431-489-8551, call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 or call a secure tip online at www.manitobacrimestoppers.com .

Related Topics: U.S.-CANADIAN BORDER
Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at akurtz@gfherald.com, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

Desk: 701-780-1110
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