New York couple killed in Rainbow Bridge explosion ‘planned to go to Kiss concert’

The FBI and New York Governor Kathy Hochul said that there are no signs that the incident was terror-related

Rachel Sharp
Thursday 23 November 2023 20:56 GMT
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Rainbow Bridge: Surveillance footage shows car speeding moments before explosion

A deadly crash at a border crossing between the US and Canada is believed to have involved a New York couple who had planned to attend a Kiss concert in Toronto on Wednesday night.

Law enforcement sources told CNN that the couple, who have not been identified but were said to have lived in western New York, were speeding in their Bentley when the car rammed into the Rainbow Bridge crossing, killing them both.

The blast sparked fears of a terrorist attack and prompted Canadian and US officials to briefly close all border bridges between the two nations and ground planes at nearby Buffalo Airport.

Hours later, the FBI Buffalo office and New York Governor Kathy Hochul said that there were no signs that the incident was terror-related.

Instead, the investigation so far indicates that the couple were planning to cross the border to go to a Kiss concert in Toronto that night. But the concert was cancelled earlier in the day due to frontman Paul Stanley becoming ill with the flu.

The pair instead headed to a casino not far from the border, CNN reported. The crash then unfolded when the couple left the casino in their Bentley.

The Seneca Nation, which owns and operates the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino, said they were cooperating with law enforcement to review and hand over any information related to a vehicle involved in the crash.

Many questions remain as to what caused the crash and whether it was intentional or accidental, with investigators probing the possibility that the driver may have suffered a medical emergency.

Authorities said on Wednesday that the vehicle entered the Rainbow Bridge crossing from the US side of the border at a high rate of speed.

Surveillance footage captures moment car speeds into Rainbow Bridge

Dramatic footage shows the speeding vehicle slamming into a curb and flying through the air into a border patrol screening area where it burst into flames. Thick black smoke and roaring flames billowed up to the sky.

Authorities confirmed that two people were killed in the blast but did not release their identities on Wednesday night. The Niagara Falls Police Department said their identities were pending positive notification and next of kin notification.

A Border Patrol agent also suffered minor injuries and was briefly treated at a local hospital.

Ms Hochul said she would not go so far as to declare the blast an “accident” just yet as the probe continues but that the two people killed were local residents with no ties to terrorism. No other potential motive had been discovered.

“I want to be very, very clear to Americans and New Yorkers, at this time there is no indication of a terrorist attack,” Ms Hochul said at a press conference.

“No indication based on online threats or anyone taking credit for this – at this time. It’s still unfolding. But I didn’t want to leave the public with any uncertainty.”

Fire damage is visible to the customs plaza structure at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing

She added: “Based on what is happening in the world, everyone is on edge. This is an international border. I won’t call it an accident yet. All we know is there was a horrific incident, a crash, a loss of life – but at this time: no known terrorism activity.”

The FBI’s Buffalo division also released a statement saying that no explosives had been found at the scene and that “no terrorism nexus was identified”.

The investigation has since been turned over to the Niagara Falls Police Department as a traffic investigation, the bureau said.

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