A French woman visiting her mom in Canada went for a jog, accidentally crossed the border into the United States, and spent two weeks in jail for her efforts, CBC News is reporting.
Cedella Roman got caught up in a bureaucratic nightmare involving three countries, all because she took a wrong turn, and it took two weeks to get it all sorted out.
Roman, who is French, decided to pay a visit to her mother, Christiane Ferne, who lives in British Columbia, the Canadian province that borders Washington state. Roman says she wanted to brush up on her English as well as visit her mom, who lives in the town of North Delta.
On May 21, the 19-year-old woman went for a jog along the beach just south of White Rock, British Columbia. Jogging southeast, she eventually wound up in Surrey, the border town that is the last stop before reaching U.S. soil. And reach U.S. soil she did: lacking any warning signs or anything else to indicate that she’d crossed into Blaine, Washington, she kept jogging until the tide started coming in and decided to head home. She stopped to snap a selfie, and that’s when she saw Border Patrol agents heading her way.
Roman said she didn’t think initially that it was a big deal.
“I said to myself, well I may have crossed the border — but they’ll probably only give me a fine or they’ll tell me to go back to Canada or they’ll give me a warning.”
It turned out to actually be a much bigger deal. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers told her that she had crossed, illegally, into the United States, and that her “crime” had been captured on security cameras. What’s more, she was being taken into custody.
“They put me in the caged vehicles and brought me into their facility. They asked me to remove all my personal belongings with my jewelry, they searched me everywhere. Then I understood it was getting very serious, and I started to cry a bit.”
Lacking a passport or any other means of identifying herself — she was jogging, after all — Roman called her mother, Christiane Ferne, to sort things out. But there was a problem: being French and not Canadian, Customs and Border Patrol wanted proof that Roman was also in Canada legally. It took two weeks for the three countries to sort it all out and get Roman released. She was then returned to Canada.
In a statement, a spokesperson for U.S. Customs and Border Protection said that anyone who crosses the border into the U.S. apart from doing so at an official port of entry, with proper paperwork, will be treated as having crossed the border illegally and will be “processed accordingly.”