Dominican man dies trying to walk into U.S. from Canada

Wilson Vega was found dead after attempting to cross the border from Canada into the U.S., friends say. GoFundMe

A Dominican man attempting to walk over the border into the U.S. from Canada died after becoming disorientated in a marshy area of the Quebec woods.

After previously being denied entry into the U.S., Wilson Reynoso Vega was trying another tactic in an attempt to reach his daughter, the Washington Post reported.

He was found dead on April 16, near Lacolle, Que.

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The Surete du Quebec confirmed the death was accidental but said they didn’t know Vega’s motives for attempting to cross the border.

A request to the Canada Border Services Agency was unanswered by the time of publication.

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A friend of Vega’s from Toronto is trying to help return Vega’s body to his hometown. In a GoFundMe post, Andrew Burzminski writes that Vega “tragically lost his life at the age of 30 when he decided to travel to the U.S across the Quebec border to see his family and daughter.”

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Vega’s 11-year-old lived in Philadelphia with her mother, the Post reported; Vega communicated with her via video messaging.

Family members and friends told the Post that Vega was well loved in his home town of Guaraguao in the Dominican Republic.

“Here in the town, he was like a mayor,” brother Wilton Reynoso Vega told the Post.

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Vega was described as “kind, quiet and a gentle soul who cared deeply about his family and friends,” according to Burzminski.

“He always strived for a better life so he can take care of his loved ones, including his daughter.”

Vega reportedly attempted to get a visitor visa to enter the States but was denied for unknown reasons. That’s when he flew to Toronto to try to enter illegally.

Friends say he paid $3,500 to two smugglers, according to the Post. He travelled with the smugglers, who took him along with some others to an area near the U.S. border on April 15.

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“There were two kilometres they had to (walk) by themselves,” Burzminski told the Post.

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During the walk through the marshy woods on the northwestern shore of Lake Champlain, Vega turned back.

When the migrants crossed the border, they were arrested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

A release from U.S. Customs and Border Protection says agents apprehended a group of five people travelling south across the border when one person ran into the woods. It was not clear if this was Vega.

Vega’s body was found on April 16, after a tip from U.S. Customs and Border Protection informed Quebec authorities that someone was missing, the CBC reported at the time.

The Post reported that Vega was found with his boots on his hands, and the cause of death was drowning.

The Surete du Quebec confirmed the death was accidental.

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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested an Ecuadorian man for suspected smuggling later that evening.

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The man was found in a van not far from the border, with another seven people who allegedly crossed the border illegally.

While thousands of people cross the U.S.-Canada border outside of regular points of entry every year, the number of deaths is relatively low.

In 2017, a Ghanaian woman attempting to enter Manitoba died of hypothermia in May 2017.

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Statistics published by the federal government show that Mounties apprehended 3,944 irregular migrants between official border crossings in the first third of this year.