MONTREAL — Quebec RCMP say they rescued a man over the weekend who became lost in the woods in heavy snow while trying to cross the border into the United States.
Cpl. Tasha Adams says a person called police early Saturday to express worry about a family member who had been trying to cross the border on foot in the Mansonville area, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, in hopes of claiming asylum.
She says officers trekked for an hour and a half through three feet of snow to track down the man, who she says was conscious but appeared to be suffering from hypothermia and frostbite.
The man was able to walk out of the woods with the help of officers and was given first aid at the scene and taken to hospital.
The incident occurred less than a month after a 44-year-old man was found frozen to death in a wooded area near St-Bernard-de-Lacolle, Que., where police said he was trying enter the United States.
Adams says RCMP are concerned that some people are putting their lives at risk to cross the border in "incredibly dangerous" conditions.
"We're talking about three feet of snow that (officers) were sinking in, very mountainous terrain, through rivers," she said.
The news comes as U.S. officials are reporting a surge in the number of people trying to cross the border from Canada in between official crossings.
Between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022, U.S. Border Patrol's Swanton Sector — which patrols Vermont, New Hampshire and part of New York — recorded an approximate 743 per cent increase in apprehensions and encounters compared to the same period one year earlier, the agency said in a news release last week.
Adams said she did not have RCMP data on increased southward crossings, but she said Saturday's incident was not the first search-and-rescue to take place near the border.
"Is this an isolated incident? Absolutely not," she said.
"In fact, it's concerning that some of these individuals are attempting passage in that manner because it's incredibly dangerous."
She said no criminal charges are expected.
Firefighters from the municipality of Potton were also called to give first aid to the man, who spoke English and Spanish, James Bouthillier, director of the fire department, said in an interview.
Bouthillier said he hasn't noticed a marked increase in the number of people trying to cross the border in his sector, but he said a similar rescue took place around a year ago, in late 2021 or early 2022.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2023.
The Canadian Press