Fernand Drapeau, 87, of Quebec appears to have died of a heart attack while the family was vacationing in Florida, the Vancouver Sun reported.
Fearing the costs of the U.S. health care system and the hassle and price of official repatriation, the family went the do-it-yourself route.
The distraught relatives pulled a “Weekend at Bernie’s” type scenario, propping Drapeau in the backseat.
They drove all the way from Florida to the U.S.-Canadian border. At about 2:30 a.m. on April 1, they tried to cross over.
They almost made it home, just 15 minutes north of the border. But unlike the family in “Little Miss Sunshine,” who escapes detection of the deceased elder riding in the car, they were snagged by customs.
As the Toronto Sun noted, it lent the question “what do you have to declare” an entirely new meaning.
“For a Quebec family, the answer was grandpa,” the newspaper said.
By this time, paramedics determined, Drapeau had been dead for a day or two.
The family did not hide their angst.
“We said everything we knew to police,” said the dead man’s son to the Journal de Montréal, according to the Vancouver Sun.
Charges have not been filed, but they still could be. An autopsy is planned, but authorities said there was no sign of violence and that the man appeared to have died of a heart attack.
The family’s fears were not unfounded. Vice News Canada notes that the U.S. health care system has been known to bankrupt some Canadians, such as a man who needed treatment after a car accident and ended up owing $325,000, or the woman who gave birth prematurely and had to pony up nearly $1 million.