January 31, 2008 / 9:58 PM / 10 years ago

Canadian sisters, age 1 and 3, found dead in snow

WINNIPEG, Manitoba (Reuters) - Canadian police said on Thursday they are investigating the father of two toddlers who were found dead in the snow, wearing only diapers and light shirts in bitterly cold weather, in the Prairie province of Saskatchewan.

"Basically, we're still trying to put together the pieces about why they were outside," said Sgt. Brad Kaeding of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, noting alcohol was involved.

"The only person who would know that would be the father of the children, and I'm not sure he's been able to provide an adequate explanation for that at this point," Kaeding said.

The man, who local media identified as Christopher Pauchay, 25, left his home on the Yellow Quill First Nation Indian reserve near Kelvington, Saskatchewan, at 12:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday. Temperatures that night dipped below -35 degrees Celsius (-31 degrees Fahrenheit), meaning exposed skin could freeze in minutes.

Pauchay arrived at a neighbor's home about four hours later with severe frostbite and hypothermia, and was taken to hospital, Kaeding said.

That afternoon, he asked about his children, which prompted police to search for them, quickly finding Santana, age 1. The next day they found her sister Kaydence, 3.

An autopsy will be done on Friday, Kaeding said.

Pauchay's sister, Bernita Pauchay, told the Globe and Mail newspaper he was home with the children when he became worried about Santana, and tried to walk to her nearby house.

"He remembers carrying both of the babies, but he was so intoxicated he doesn't really remember anything else," she is quoted by the newspaper.

More than 2,500 km (1,600 miles) across the country, another baby, believed to be around eight months old, was found abandoned in the freezing cold stairwell of a Toronto parking garage on Wednesday.

With the exception of a number of scratches and bruises, the baby is described by officials as healthy, and is in hospital for observation.

Toronto police are seeking the public's help in finding the baby's parents and have surveillance video of a man or woman in a green Ford Escort, model years 1997 to 2000, entering and exiting the area at around the time the incident occurred.

Reporting by Roberta Rampton and John McCrank; Editing by Rob Wilson

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