LEWISTON – U.S. Border Patrol agents got an unusual phone call Monday morning: a report of a man paddling across the Lower Niagara River toward Canada in an inflatable raft with a bicycle on board.
U.S. Border Patrol Buffalo Sector Agent Matthew Bitterman said the caller grew concerned after seeing a man pull up in a car to the boat launch behind the Silo restaurant at about 10 a.m.
Bitterman described what the witness saw the man do next: “Pulled a raft out of his car. Got a foot pump. Pumped it up. Put a bike on it. Threw it into the river and started to paddle. [The person who called] thought that was weird – which is weird,” Bitterman said.
In addition, Bitterman said, the man in the raft “was dressed all in black, even though it was during the day.”
Agents were able pull video of the man on their cameras and watched as he approached Canada.
In the meantime, Canadian border officers were alerted and they arrested the man as he arrived in Canada.
Officials described the man as a Chinese citizen in his 30s and said his car was believed to have been a rental.
Canadian authorities did not release the man’s name.
Bitterman said it’s not clear why the man was trying to get to Canada on a raft.
Anyone who witnesses suspicious behavior at the border is encouraged to call the tip line at (800) 331-0353.