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Manitoba RCMP seek to fill in timeline of migrant family that died during January border crossing

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Manitoba RCMP continue to investigate the circumstances that led to the deaths of two adults and their children whose bodies were found near the Canada/U.S. border at Emerson, Man., in January.Police said they’re looking into how the Patel family’s fatal trek — believed to be connected to a human smuggling network — got them to Emerson after flying from Dubai to Toronto on Jan. 12.

The victims — Jagdishkumar and Vaishaliben Patel and their children, 11-year-old Vihangi and three-year-old Dharmik — died of exposure while attempting to cross the border on foot.

Insp. Gary Bird said Friday that there’s a gap in the family’s known whereabouts that police are trying to explain.

According to their investigation, the Patels arrived in Canada Jan. 12, at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, via a flight that left from Dubai earlier that day.

Police said the family members were picked up by a private vehicle and stayed at multiple locations in Toronto, sometimes using ride-sharing apps to travel from place to place.

How they ended up in Manitoba, though, is a mystery. Their next known whereabouts are when they were found dead near the border on Jan. 19. Police have looked into air, rail and bus records with no luck.

“We have a specific gap in the Patels’ timeline between Jan.15 to when they were so tragically discovered near the border on Jan. 19,” said Bird.

“We’re confident that people saw and helped the family during this time as they travelled more than 2,000 km from Toronto to Emerson.”

“We need these people to come forward and share what they know about the Patel family’s journey within Canada. Even the smallest bit of information could be significant. This should not have happened. Four lives, an entire family, are gone. We need the people who have information to step forward, so we can find out what happened and hold those involved to account.”

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