Washington, November 23
A speeding car crashed in flames on the bridge linking New York state and Ontario at Niagara Falls on Thursday, killing two people in the vehicle and sparking a security scare that closed four US-Canadian border crossings and New York’s Buffalo International Airport.
Hours later federal and state authorities said investigators had found no evidence of an act of terror, though circumstances surrounding the crash on the Rainbow Bridge remained murky, leaving it to be determined whether it was accidental or intentional.
“At this time, there is no indication of a terrorist attack” or threat to the public at large, New York Governor Kathy Hochul told reporters Wednesday evening. Her comments were echoed by federal and local law enforcement officials at a separate news conference.
The FBI said in a statement late on Wednesday it had concluded its investigation. “A search of the scene revealed no explosive materials, and no terrorism nexus was identified,” the FBI said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Video of the crash caught on security camera and posted to X by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency showed the car traveling from the U.S. side at high speed, then hitting an object and flying into the air before crashing to the ground and exploding in flames.
The driver and a passenger perished in the wreck, and a CBP officer suffered minor injuries. He was treated at a nearby hospital and released, an agency official said later.
Authorities did not identify the two people killed. CNN reported the driver was a 56-year-old man who was traveling in a Bentley automobile with his wife to attend a concert by the rock group KISS.
The Rainbow Bridge and all three other border crossings along the Niagara River between western New York and southern Ontario – the Peace Bridge, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge and the Whirlpool Bridge – were shut for several hours afterward as a precaution.
Other international crossings remained open on “heightened alert status,” according to the governor.
Fiery crash reported
Hochul said the car that crashed sailed over an 8-foot-tall fence before landing in a fireball that incinerated the vehicle, leaving little but the engine visibly intact and scattering debris over more than a dozen security booths on the bridge.
“He was flying, over 100 miles an hour,” said Guenther, who was visiting from Kitchener, Ontario. He said the vehicle, which he described as a luxury sedan, was “fish-tailing” out of control before it crashed.
“It was a ball of fire, 30 or 40 feet high, never seen anything like it,” said Guenther.