by Terry Duffy
Days have passed, but area law enforcement officials are, nonetheless, continuing their search for two individuals who illegally entered the U.S. Tuesday on a beach area just east of Fort Niagara.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Homeland Security Investigative Division, together with the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Coast Guard, New York State Parks Police and the Niagara Regional Police were still seeking the whereabouts of the two men last seen Tuesday afternoon just outside of Youngstown.
They report the incident began innocently enough when the men, said to have French accents, arranged for a fishing excursion from a charter based in Queenston, Ontario, across from the Lewiston docks.
The two spent some time in a small boat fishing in the lower Niagara River, even catching a fish before they requested the 17-year-old charter captain to bring them closer to the U.S. side for some photo-taking, according to law enforcement and local sources. After being on the water for approximately two hours, the charter boat captain was ordered at knife point to take them to shore in the U.S.
The men were then taken to shore just east of Fort Niagara, where they landed on the beach and fled the scene on foot. The two reportedly encountered a Lake Road resident about the 500 block who inquired on their welfare as they crossed the resident's property. The men were last seen heading west on Lake Road toward Youngstown.
The men were described as in their mid-20s, with one being 6 feet tall and 175 pounds, wearing a blue coat and a white Eskimo hat. The other man was described as 5 feet, 11 inches tall and 200 pounds, wearing a black sweater, black track pants and white Nike sneakers.
"I have been in contact with U.S. Border Patrol, who are the lead agency dealing with this incident," said Youngstown Mayor Raleigh Reynolds. "At this time, they have not located the two men. The Border Patrol does not believe these men to be dangerous. However, I ask all village residents, as well as residents of Porter, to remain vigilant and contact law enforcement if they see anyone matching the description of these two men. It is not known if they had an accomplice on our shores, but that possibility is being explored."
As of Thursday, the U.S. Border Patrol was continuing its search for the two men, with a third suspected, and it was uncertain whether they were still in the area.
Anyone with information should contact the U.S. Border Patrol at 716-774-7200.