TORONTO (Reuters) - A man is in custody on an immigration-related charge after being rescued from Niagara Falls near the U.S. border over the weekend, claiming to have fallen asleep on an inflatable mattress, authorities said on Monday.
“Canada Border Services Agency is alleging that he is inadmissible to Canada,” said Charles Hawkins, spokesman for the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, the country’s largest independent administrative tribunal.
Hawkins said the 42-year-old man, a Spanish citizen, was detained as he was considered “a flight risk.”
He was rescued from a chunk of ice 1.5 kilometres upstream from Niagara Falls near the U.S. border.
Security personnel at an Ontario Power Generation station had heard the man screaming for help around 4:30 a.m. Saturday close to the OPG’s water-tunnel intake near Chippawa, Ont.
“He claimed he was going to lie down on the mattress to relax and he fell asleep, and the next thing he knew he was on the river,” said Hawkins, recounting information from the man’s detention hearing on Monday morning.
The man might have been trying to get to the United States when the ice chunk he was on broke loose, media reports said.
That’s when rescuers plucked him from the ice floe, said Inspector John Audibert of the Niagara Parks Police.
“With the assistance of Niagara Falls fire department a 42-year-old male was rescued from a platform of ice located approximately 25-feet offshore,” said Audibert.
The man suffered mild hypothermia and was taken to Greater Niagara General Hospital by emergency services. After being interviewed by border officials, he was taken into custody, said Audibert.
Hawkins said the man entered Canada through Montreal on March 22 to buy equipment for his construction business.
In July 2000 and March 2002, he had been ordered removed from the U.S., where he used to live and where his now-former wife and two daughters reside, Hawkins said.
Hawkins couldn’t provide details on why the man was ordered to leave the U.S.
The man’s next detention hearing is on April 1.