The bodies were found on Wednesday in barren, snow-covered terrain just feet from the U.S. border in Manitoba, Canada: a man, a woman, a teenager, and an infant who appeared to have frozen to death while trying to cross into the United States, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
All four have been tentatively identified as members of a family who may have been victims of a human-smuggling operation, the authorities said. Their bodies were discovered about 30 to 40 feet from the U.S. border, in a remote area six miles east of Emerson, Manitoba, the authorities said.
“It is an absolute and heartbreaking tragedy,” Assistant Commissioner Jane MacLatchy of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said at a news conference on Thursday, adding that it appeared that all four had died of exposure to the cold.
She emphasized that investigators consider the four to be victims.
“We’re very concerned that this attempted crossing may have been facilitated in some way, and that these individuals, including an infant, were left on their own in the middle of a blizzard when the weather hovered around minus 35 degrees Celsius, factoring the wind,” Commissioner MacLatchy said.
“These victims faced not only the cold weather, but also endless fields, large snowdrifts, and complete darkness.”