Death toll rises to 8 after bodies of child, adult found in Akwesasne

Akwesasne police confirmed late Friday afternoon that two more bodies, including an infant, were among a group of migrants who died trying to cross into the United States.

At an earlier news conference earlier in the day, Akwesasne deputy chief, Lee Ann O’Brien said the boat the people were travelling in was small.

“Very small, nothing fancy, probably used for fishing but at this time we don’t know what it was used for,” she said. “All we’re saying is that we located it yesterday in the vicinity where we located the bodies.”

On Thursday, six bodies were discovered along the shores of the St. Lawrence River in Tsi Snaihne (Snye) one of three districts in the Mohawk territory.

O’Brien said the six bodies were located during a search for a 30-year-old man who was reported missing on Thursday.

Casey Oakes of Akwesasne was last seen Wednesday around 9:30 p.m. boarding a small boat departing from the east end of Cornwall Island, located in the St. Lawrence River and on the Ontario side of the Mohawk territory.

“A vessel matching the description as being operated by Casey Oakes was located in the vicinity of the deceased persons,” she said, adding that she couldn’t confirm whether that boat had been used to transport the two families.

Akwesasne police
The marshland where eight people died trying to cross the St. Lawrence River into the United States on Thursday. Photo: Annette Francis/APTN.

O’Brien said there’s been an increase in recent months of people trying to access the U.S. border through Akwesasne.

“Since January of 2023, we have 48 separate incidents,” she said.

O’Brien said this incident had nothing to do with the closure of the border crossing on Roxham Rd., in Quebec last week.

“This has nothing to do with that closure. That closure was people seeking refuge leaving the U.S. to Canada. These people were believed to be gaining entry into the U.S. It’s completely the opposite.”

Authorities had found the bodies of five adults and one child members of two families of Romanian and Indian descent.

Police say the child discovered today was a Canadian citizen of Romanian descent.

The body of an adult woman believed to be an Indian national was also recovered on the territory that straddles the U.S.-Canada border.


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