Smoke billows from Niagara Falls explosion as two people dead in vehicle blast
The reason behind the vehicle explosion at Rainbow Bridge on Wednesday is still unknown, as investigators are looking into the possibility of a mechanical malfunction as the cause.
Mayor Robert Restaino of Niagara Falls informed The New York Times that the vehicle, a Bentley, which was being driven by Kurt P Villani and Monica Villani (identified on Friday), was an older version and could have encountered a technical issue that resulted in it unexpectedly speeding up as it neared the border checkpoint.
The vehicle was caught on camera accelerating before crashing into a curb on the American side of the border. It then went airborne and exploded, resulting in the deaths of the two individuals inside.
The explosion immediately caused concerns about a potential terrorist incident, but New York Governor Kathy Hochul and FBI officials clarified that there was no evidence of any terrorist involvement.
According to officials, the individuals who were harmed were a married couple from New York who had planned to attend a KISS concert in Canada on Wednesday evening. Their identities have not been disclosed.
The performance was cancelled, causing them to visit the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino before heading towards the US-Canada border crossing.
In case you missed it, here is the information we have regarding the crash at Rainbow Bridge.
On Wednesday, November 22, a car explosion at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing between the US and Canada resulted in the deaths of Kurt P Villani and Monica Villani.
Witnesses reported that a car tried to cross the border from the United States into Canada, but instead accelerated towards a checkpoint, collided with a fence, and then burst into flames before noon.
The footage and images depicted a checkpoint engulfed in flames and emitting thick, dark smoke. The security booth was also heavily damaged by the fire.
The explosion resulted in the death of two individuals, reportedly injured a Border Patrol officer, and caused the temporary shutdown of four border crossings connecting the US and Canada in New York.
In a matter of hours, detectives had eliminated the possibility that the vehicle was transporting explosives or had any ties to terrorism.
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The video shows the car driving at high speed just before the accident occurred.
Condolences flood in following the passing of Kurt P Villani and Monica Villani in the tragic accident.
The couple were part of the Niagara Sailing Club located on Grand Island, according to the club’s treasurer, Scott Henderson, who spoke with NBC-affiliate-WGRZ.
“He stated that not only were individuals conversing, but when I made an announcement, some were utterly stunned.”
“It’s not just limited to a young couple, but they have deeply embedded themselves and hold significant influence in this community.”
Chuck Meyer, a friend of the couple, expressed his surprise upon hearing that the national news was reporting on a tragedy involving people he knew.
He told the local news on Thursday that when he arrived home on Wednesday, he was unaware of anything except for what he had heard on the news about the border. However, he noticed that their driveway was crowded with numerous cars.
“I initially believed, ‘Oh, they are celebrating Christmas or Thanksgiving ahead of time, and that’s very kind.’ However, an hour later, I learned the news and was shocked.”
Who were the two individuals who died in the explosion?
According to law enforcement officials, the accident on the Rainbow Bridge on Wednesday evening is suspected to have involved a resident of New York and a traveler who were headed to a KISS concert in Toronto, Canada.
The performance was called off earlier in the day because lead singer Paul Stanley became sick with the flu.
On Friday, authorities determined that the individuals involved were Kurt P Villani and Monica Villani, both 53 years old, residing in Grand Island, New York. According to an obituary for the husband’s father, they are survived by two children.
Gui’s Lumber, owned by the Villanis, is a company that has eight branches spread throughout western New York.
The company expressed their thanks to CBC and stated that they are grateful for all the prayers, condolences, and well wishes they have received. They are deeply moved and ask for privacy as they begin the healing process.
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A KISS concert that was cancelled due to a deadly crash.
Authorities suspect that a fatal accident at a border crossing between the United States and Canada may have been caused by a couple from New York who intended to go to a Kiss concert in Toronto on Wednesday evening.
According to authorities, a couple from western New York were driving their Bentley at a high speed and crashed into the Rainbow Bridge, resulting in the death of both individuals. The identities of the couple have not been released.
The explosion caused concerns about a potential act of terrorism and resulted in authorities from Canada and the US briefly shutting down all border crossings and halting flights at Buffalo Airport.
After several hours, the FBI Buffalo office and New York Governor Kathy Hochul stated that there were no indications that the incident was related to terrorism.
Unfortunately, the current investigation suggests that the pair had intentions to travel across the border to attend a Kiss performance in Toronto on the same evening. However, the show was canceled earlier in the day due to lead singer Paul Stanley falling ill with the flu.
Wednesday, 22 November:
The Toronto concert for the band KISS has been cancelled because lead singer Paul Stanley has caught the flu.
A couple from New York originally intending to attend a concert, changes their plans and opts to visit a casino instead.
The pair departed from the casino and made their way towards the bridge.
At 11:50 in the morning, the Rainbow Bridge was shut down because of a “traffic incident.”
Governor Kathy Hochul declares that there is no evidence of a terrorist attack.
The FBI stated that there was no connection to terrorism.
Friday, 24 November:
Police have identified the individuals as Kurt P Villani and Monica Villani, both of whom are from Grand Island, New York.
Their two children were the ones who survived.
A representative from Bentley shares their perspective.
After the occurrence, Mayor Robert Restaino of Niagara Falls informed The New York Times that the vehicle, a Bentley, being operated by the couple was an older version and could have encountered a mechanical issue which led to its sudden acceleration near the border checkpoint.
A representative from Bentley USA, Erin Bronner, stated to WIVB 4 that they will promptly cooperate with authorities and assist in any investigations if contacted.
Conservative personalities criticized for hastily labeling the crash as a terrorist attack.
Several conservative figures hastily labeled the collision as a “terrorist attack,” prompting backlash.
Senator Ted Cruz asserted that the explosion at Rainbow Bridge was, in fact, a terror attack. He further communicated on Twitter, “This confirms our greatest apprehension: the explosion at Rainbow Bridge was an act of terrorism.”
Representative Byron Donalds also spoke up, stating that the event that occurred today, which seems to be a terrorist attack, should serve as a reminder to all Americans. He emphasized the need for a change in leadership in our country, especially during this time. He also extended his prayers to those affected by this act of terror and for the well-being of our nation as a whole.
Senator Rick Scott of Florida and potential presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, along with Donald Trump Jr. and others, also implied that the explosion could be a terrorist attack, connecting it to policies about border control.
During an interview with Abby Phillip on Wednesday, CNN journalist Oliver Darcy expressed disapproval of Fox News’ initial coverage of the “terrorist attack”.
He stated that the reporting was irresponsible, reckless, and inaccurate. He also mentioned that it was reported for a prolonged period of time and the network even sent out a push notification about it being a terrorism report.
Lindy Li, a political strategist, used Twitter to express her criticism of Fox News. She stated that the car explosion on the Rainbow Bridge should not be considered a terrorist attack, as Fox News may want viewers to believe, but rather a tragic accident.
“The assault by Trump on our Capitol was not a typical tourist visit, but instead a terrorist attack. It’s important to understand the significant distinction.”
What was the reason for the collision?
The reason for the explosion at Rainbow Bridge is still somewhat unknown. Investigators are currently looking into the possibility that a malfunction in the vehicle may have caused it.
The mayor of Niagara Falls, Robert Restaino, informed The New York Times that the car the couple was driving was an older Bentley and may have encountered a mechanical issue that led to its sudden acceleration near the border checkpoint.
According to a representative from Bentley Motors in the United States, the company has not yet been contacted by investigators regarding the incident.
Determining the reason for the incident may require a significant amount of time, as the vehicle was completely destroyed by the intense explosion.
On Thursday, the Niagara Falls Police Department took over the investigation, as the FBI did not find any evidence of terrorism. As part of their investigation, they reconstructed the accident and retraced the steps of the couple before the incident.
During a press conference on Wednesday evening, Ms Hochul stated that she was not ready to classify the explosion as an “accident” at this time, as the investigation is ongoing. However, she confirmed that the two individuals who lost their lives were residents of the area and had no connection to terrorism. No other possible reasons for the explosion have been uncovered.
“I want to make it abundantly clear to the American and New York public that there is currently no evidence of a terrorist attack,” stated Ms Hochul.
She stated that due to current events, people are feeling tense, and this area is a border between nations. She refrains from labeling it as an accident, as the details are still unknown. The incident involved a tragic crash and loss of life, but it is not believed to be linked to terrorism at this time.
The Buffalo division of the FBI also issued a statement stating that there were no explosives discovered at the location and that there was no connection to terrorism.
The statements made by officials in New York regarding the crash.