Autopsies confirm family from India died from exposure at border
Authorities say the four people found dead near the Manitoba-Minnesota border have been confirmed to be members of the same family from India.
Royal Canadian Mountain Police say autopsies found the four to be 39-year-old Jagdishkumar Patel, 37-year-old Vaishaliben Patel, 11-year-old Vihangi Patel, and 3-year-old Dharmik Patel. Their bodies were found Jan. 19 about 40 feet (12 meters) north of the border east of Emerson, Manitoba.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of Manitoba found that the deaths were caused by exposure.
The RCMP says their investigation has found that the Patel family arrived in Toronto on Jan. 12 and made their way to Emerson on or about Jan. 18. Their bodies were found after U.S. authorities located seven other Indian nationals and an alleged human smuggler just south of the border.
Authorities say there was no abandoned vehicle on the Canadian side of the border, indicating that someone drove them there and left the scene.
Police say they believe this is a case of human smuggling. They are trying to determine how the family travelled from Toronto to Emerson and asking anyone who encountered the Patel family during their time in Canada to contact authorities.
People with information are asked to call Manitoba RCMP Major Crime Services at 431-489-8551. Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a tip online at www.manitobacrimestoppers.com.
Meanwhile, the seven Indian nationals who survived have been released from U.S. custody pending deportation hearings in front of an immigration judge.
U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials said Thursday that six of the migrants were placed under supervision and one was released for humanitarian purposes. All of them have been ordered to report to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, at a later date.
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The Associated Press contributed to this report.