SALT LAKE CITY — A 19-year-old is now banned from Canada after she and a friend drove across the border by accident.
Tatiana McEwan and one of her girlfriends took their first road trip to Washington. For protection, her friend's boyfriend stashed a handgun in McEwan's car. When the teens unexpectedly found themselves at the Canadian border, their car was searched.
Finding the handgun, the patrolmen didn't believe the girls were merely lost.
"We're two 19-year-olds (on) our first road trip," McEwan said. "We were just excited to get out of Utah."
McEwan and her friend hit the road for Blaine, Wa. The first on their list was to find a mall.
"The sign said freeway entrance and then border, so we said, ‘We'll just get off before the border,' " McEwan said.
However, the teens didn't know there wasn't an exit before the border. They arrived at the Canadian line, and despite simply wanting to turn around, the girls were questioned.
"They asked us is if we had any weapons in the car," McEwan said. "We said, ‘No we don't have any weapons in the car. We just want to flip around and go home.' "
Tatiana McEwan now faces several charges, including smuggling goods into Canada, giving a false statement and unauthorized possession of a firearm.
The teenagers did have a weapon — an unloaded 9 mm handgun — and their car was searched. McEwan was then arrested after searchers found the handgun, accusing her of smuggling it into Canada, she said.
She then spent eight hours in jail before being released on $500 bail. She immediately called her father.
"He gets off the phone and says, ‘You're not going to believe what happened to Tatiana,' " said her stepmother, Kimberlee McEwan. "He said she was arrested in Canada for gun smuggling."
Tatiana McEwan said she admits she should have told the border agent about the gun, but it was a thought that didn't cross her or her friend's mind.
Regardless, Kimberlee McEwan said she thinks the charges are absurd.
"Tatiana doesn't even have a passport," she said. "She wouldn't even be allowed in the country."
Tatiana McEwan now faces several charges, including smuggling goods into Canada, giving a false statement and unauthorized possession of a firearm. She's also banned from entering Canada.
In addition, she paid $1,000 to retrieve her car and faces thousands of dollars in attorney fees and penalties.
"I thought it's not that big of a deal," Kimberlee McEwan said. "I was wrong."