Man found dead near unofficial Quebec-U.S. border crossing was going to see family, police say

Man found dead near unofficial Quebec-U.S. border crossing was going to see family, police say

The man whose body was found near Roxham Road earlier this week died of hypothermia while trying to cross into the U.S. to visit family, police said Friday.

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ), Quebec's provincial police force, identified the man as Fritznel Richard, 44. His body was found near the U.S. border on Wednesday afternoon.

The SQ said there were no signs of violence on his body.

The coroner will investigate to find the "precise cause and circumstances of his death," the SQ said.

The SQ confirmed that Richard had been reported missing to the Montreal police in late December but a search for him was called off on Dec. 29 because police believed he had entered the U.S.

His body was first spotted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents patrolling by helicopter just east of Roxham Road, a well-travelled unofficial border crossing used by migrants seeking asylum.

Charles Contant/CBC
Charles Contant/CBC

Frantz André, an immigration consultant who has helped hundreds of mostly Haitian migrants claim asylum after crossing Roxham Road, said that while he did not know Richard personally, he knows other migrants who returned to the United States through the unofficial border after getting discouraged by bureaucratic barriers in Canada.

"It's possible that he came with the intention of bringing his family, but that he decided to return to find them in the U.S. where they may already have had a network," he said.

The need for sending electronic documents in the immigration application process, as well as significant delays in obtaining work permits and unemployment insurance that doesn't cover rising rents and living costs are factors that have pushed others to abandon their Canadian asylum claims, André said.

Police have not confirmed Richard's nationality or status in Canada.

According to the federal government, 45,250 asylum seekers arrived in Quebec between January and November 2022, most of them via unofficial entry points like Roxham Road.

Migrants have died before while trying to cross the border. In 2019, a man from the Dominican Republic was found dead in Canada near Roxham Road, the Washington Post reported. In January 2022, the bodies of four Indian migrants were found in Manitoba near the U.S. border.

In 2016, two asylum seekers lost fingers to frostbite when they crossed from the United States into Manitoba on a bitterly cold Christmas Eve.