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8139: Body of Haitian Immigrant washes ashore (fwd)




From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Refugee drowned off Palm Beach after being forced from smuggling boat

By Jody A. Benjamin
Staff Writer
Posted May 30 2001

PALM BEACH  The body of a Haitian immigrant that police discovered at sea 
was that of a man who apparently could not swim to shore after being forced 
to jump from a smuggler's boat late Monday.

About 9:30 p.m. Monday, police found six men and two women, all Haitian 
nationals, on the beach at an upscale residential community. They claimed to 
have traveled by boat from Haiti and said two of their group members were 
missing.

"They were pointing and screaming out to another person in the water," said 
Palm Beach Police Sgt. Hal Hutchins, who was at the scene.

An officer swam out to help a woman to shore but could not locate the other 
missing person.

After a helicopter search in the dark, police found the body of a man 
submerged in 7 feet of water about 100 yards off shore, Hutchins said. The 
Palm Beach medical examiner has yet to determine the cause of death.

A spokesman for the U.S. Border Patrol said that a smuggler brought the 
group to 100 yards off the South Florida coast, forced them to swim to 
shore, then disappeared.

"We've opened an investigation into this smuggling incident," said Border 
Patrol agent Joe Mellia.

None of the survivors was injured in the incident. All were reported in fair 
medical condition, Hutchins said. The U.S. Border Patrol took the surviving 
Haitian migrants to the Krome detention center where they face a hearing 
before an immigration judge on whether they should be allowed to remain in 
the United States.

Jody A. Benjamin can be reached at jbenjamin@sun-sentinel.com or 
954-356-4530 .


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