Authorities are currently looking into the cause of a car accident and subsequent explosion at a border checkpoint in Niagara Falls, New York, on Wednesday. The incident resulted in the death of the married couple inside the vehicle. Reports suggest that the investigation is considering both mechanical and medical factors as potential causes.
Officials have revealed that the individuals involved in the Rainbow Bridge crash were identified as Kurt P Villani and Monica Villani, both aged 53. The Villani family is known for owning multiple hardware stores and a lumber business in the Buffalo, New York area.
According to the New York Times, Robert Restaino, the mayor of Niagara Falls, stated that the Villani family may have been on their way to a Kiss concert in Canada, which was cancelled hours prior. The Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, located approximately one mile from the bridge, confirmed that the Villanis had briefly visited the gambling facility before tragically crashing.
The accident occurred when the Villanis’ 2022 Bentley Flying Spur was traveling at a high speed through an intersection at Rainbow Bridge. The car hit a low median and was launched into the air, ultimately crashing into a row of security booths and catching fire.
John Faso, the superintendent of Niagara Falls police, stated to News 4 Buffalo that they are currently analyzing all of the information and the investigation has only just begun. It is expected to take a significant amount of time before any conclusions are reached.
“They will investigate potential mechanical or weather-related problems, as well as the possibility of a medical incident.”
Faso allegedly stated: “We will examine all factors, including speed, mechanical problems, and any available information.”
The tragic accident immediately raised worries about security and sparked discussions about border protection. The United States had to shut down the Lewiston, Whirlpool, and Peace Bridge border checkpoints with Canada out of concern for a possible terrorist danger.
Initial media coverage suggested that there was a potential terror attack involving explosives, but according to FBI officials, there is no proof of either explosives or a terror scheme.
The federal authorities have handed over the investigation to local law enforcement, who are approaching it as a vehicular incident.
Republican congressman Mike Kelly, from Pennsylvania, was among those responding heatedly to erroneous information on the crash relating to terrorism. Kelly posted that he had “warned about the surge of suspected terrorists entering through our northern border”.
The governor of New York, Kathy Hochul, stated that the car was completely destroyed by fire, leaving only the engine and some charred fragments.
The local law enforcement announced that they were examining the rubble in an attempt to locate the black box of the vehicle. This device contains crucial data that could help determine the reason for the accident, but retrieving it proved challenging due to the condition of the site, as reported by News 4.
Faso explained that it is simpler to reconstruct a complete or undamaged vehicle, as you have a starting point. However, this is not the case in our current situation, which poses a significant challenge.
The reporting was provided by The Associated Press.