MAPLETON — It was supposed to be a trip to help others, but it turned into a very scary adventure for a Mapleton father and son. Both are now safely back in the United States, but this was not the trip they had planned on.

James Loveless and his son, Alex, were driving into Mexico Feb. 25 as part of a humanitarian project, bringing clothes and goods to villagers who need them. They were at the U.S.-Mexico border crossing, near Calexico, Calif., when they were stopped. A guard told them their trip was illegal, and their truck and everything in it was confiscated, they said.

James Loveless said he was told he could get it back if he signed a waiver admitting he was wrong and paid the guards $1,500.

At the family's home in Mapleton, Leslie Loveless laughed as she read the text messages her husband sent that day. It read it part, “I have to sign that I am guilty first.”

But at the time she received them, she was worried.

"I didn't realize how much I love my husband," she said. "You just take it for granted that everything is going to be OK.”

For Alex Loveless, this trip is something he's wanted to do for years. But he got sick three years ago and couldn't go.

"Unfortunately, the week before he came home from his (LDS) mission, he had to go in for an emergency appendectomy," Leslie Loveless said, "and they found out it wasn't his appendix. It was cancer."

A few months ago, doctors told Alex Loveless he didn't have much longer to live, so he decided this was the year for the trip. Then came the border guard incident — something that has never happened before in the project's 25-year history.

"They got in line, and they just got a bad dude, just a bad egg, and he didn't give them any space," said Lis Edmonds, the wife of the project's leader.

The humanitarians paid the money and got the truck back, but all the donated items were gone. At one point, when he was getting the money, Leslie Loveless said her husband was mugged by two men, but he fought off his attackers and was saved by a cab driver.

For Leslie Loveless, it just doesn't make any sense. "All because they were trying to do a good deed for a charity," she said.

E-mail: [email protected] Twitter: ksl_alexcabrero