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Don't try this "at home"!

White Fox

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Well, not really at home. But you get the drift.

Taken from the Toronto Star today.



Accidental tourists land in hot water at border




Near-drowning on Niagara River prompts arrests

Aug 25, 2008 04:30 AM


Sunny Freeman

Staff Reporter


Jason Haist's arrival in the U.S. was a complete accident. After nearly drowning in rapids on the Niagara River, he washed ashore on American soil, where he was promptly informed he faced charges for entering the country illegally and could be detained for up to three weeks while officials try to determine his intentions.


Before departing Queenston on a Sea-Doo around 10 a.m. Saturday, Haist, 28, called the U.S. Coast Guard to ask whether he was free to roam the water around the Queenston-Lewiston bridge near Niagara-on-the-Lake, one of the busiest points of entry between Canada and the U.S. He said officials told him as long as he didn't dock on U.S. land, it wouldn't be anything illegal.


"There were no signs indicating that we weren't allowed to go upstream," Haist told the Star in a phone interview from New York state, where he remains at an immigration detention facility.


Tour boats, departing from Niagara-on-the-Lake, regularly cruise the same waters, but do not dock on U.S. territory.


Haist said he and a group of friends departed from a dock on Princess St. in Queenston. Still traumatized from his near-drowning, Haist said he doesn't remember exactly what happened after that but thinks he travelled south to the Whirlpool Rapids, where he was tossed into the swirling water.


"All he remembered was he went under with the Jet Ski, then the Jet Ski took off and he went down with the current," his partner, Catherine Kerr, said at their Toronto home.


Haist's lungs filled with water and he was knocked unconscious. His cousin, Edward Haist, 21, tried to save Jason, but couldn't get to him, Kerr said. Boaters in the area called for help. "That's when the Coast Guard got involved," Kerr said.


Jason was taken to hospital and Edward was arrested by Border Patrol officials, supervisory U.S. Border Patrol agent Jason Ciliberti confirmed yesterday.


Jason was taken to Mount St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston, NY, a hospital spokesperson confirmed.


Jason Haist, who was put on an IV drip after having fluid pumped from his lungs, said he could hear a border official using a walkie-talkie outside his hospital room.


"He was on machines all night," Kerr said. Haist was discharged from the hospital around 3 a.m. and arrested shortly after.


"He told them, 'I almost died. I didn't plan on washing up on your land,' " Kerr said.


The men will remain in custody at the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility until they can appear before an immigration judge.


"They're here illegally," Ciliberti said, because they turned up at an unauthorized point of entry, a U.S. customs violation. It doesn't help Haist's case that he didn't have any identification in his wetsuit. All he had was his boater's card, Kerr said.


Ciliberti said the pair received notices to appear before a judge and explain their circumstances. If they choose to cancel the notice to appear and return to Canada voluntarily, Ciliberti said, "you're admitting you're in the States illegally." And if they don't appear, they will be deported and denied entry to the U.S. for at least five years.


Ciliberti said the circumstances surrounding Haist's case are "extremely rare," but added he could not comment on specifics due to privacy legislation.


He added that if they did not intend to enter the country illegally, it may make a difference in their case.


Ciliberti said the wait times for cases vary, but said he didn't believe this case would take three weeks.


A spokesperson with Canadian Foreign Affairs could not be reached yesterday for comment.


"They said he could be there as long as three weeks, we don't know how busy they are," Kerr said.


Yesterday, Kerr received a call from the wife of another detainee of the facility where Haist is being held. . "She told me he was under distress," she said. "She said they're gonna take their time, no matter how much you push."


Kerr is taking time off her job at Swiss Chalet, work she needs more than ever to pay for hospital and lawyers' bills, to drive to Buffalo and deliver money, I.D. and fresh clothes to her partner, who she says suffers from severe anxiety.


"I can't sleep, I'm so worried about his safety and health ... I keep telling him to relax and calm down so he doesn't stress himself."


Haist said his doctor told him, "I can't believe they're doing that. You had water in your lungs and you almost died."


With files from Precious Yutancgo

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IMHO, if our Border Patrol put as much focus on our southern border as it did on this poor chap, we'd have far fewer problems with illegal immigration . . .

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