(FOX 9) - Human smuggling charges have been filed against a Florida man after the deaths of a family of four near Minnesota's border with Canada this week.
According to Minnesota U.S. Attorney Charles Kovats, 47-year-old Steve Shand, of Florida, was charged on Wednesday for the case.
The U.S. Attorney says Shand was driving a 15-passenger van parked just a mile south of the Canadian border between entry points in Pembina, North Dakota and Lancaster, Minnesota.
Shand was identified and border agents later determined two passengers in the van were undocumented Indians. As Shand was taken into custody, agents spotted five other Indian nationals walking a quarter-mile south of the border towards the spot Shand had been parked. They told agents they were expecting to be picked up by someone and estimated they had been walking eleven hours in the cold.
One of the five people had a backpack belonging to another group. He told agents he was holding it for the other group, which had become separated overnight. The backpack contained clothing, diapers, and medications for children
Temperatures on Wednesday in that part of the state were 25 below zero, with wind chills pushing 40 below. In that environment, you can develop frostbite in less than ten minutes.
Later that day, U.S. Border Patrol was notified by Royal Canadian Mounted Police that four bodies were discovered on the Canadian side of the border. The bodies were identified as a family of four, all also from India.
Of the survivors, two of the Indian nationals are being treated at the hospital with serious injuries.
Shand is scheduled to make his first appearance in federal court on Monday.