Investigators believe a New York couple were the two people killed in a car that It crashed and exploded at a U.S.-Canada border crossing near Niagara Falls, law enforcement sources said, and the FBI sees no link to terrorism.
Alarms went off from New York to Washington, DC, on Wednesday morning after the incident on the US side of the Rainbow Bridge crossing. Investigators believe the couple was traveling in a Bentley at high speed when it hit a curb at a checkpoint, then hit a guardrail that sent it airborne and into a checkpoint area before exploding, according to sources.
Despite initial concerns of a terrorist attack, the FBI has found no connection to terrorism and no explosives were found at the scene, the agency’s Buffalo field office reported. Announced Wednesday night. The case has been turned over to local police as a traffic investigation.
“I want to be very, very clear to Americans and New Yorkers: At this time there is no indication of a terrorist attack,” New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a news conference Wednesday night.
“Two people died in the vehicle,” Hochul said, noting that the car is associated with a Western New York resident.
Investigators believe the man who died. He had plans to attend a KISS concert in Canada, but when it was canceled, he went to a casino in the U.S. The accident occurred shortly after the couple left the casino, sources said.
The explosion caused the temporary closure of all four bridges between Canada and the United States near Niagara Falls on one of the busiest tourist days of the year. Three of the bridges reopened later Wednesday, but Rainbow Bridge remains closed.
Here’s what we know so far:
The vehicle was traveling at an “extraordinarily high speed” when it approached the border crossing around 11:30 a.m. and crashed into a barrier, Hochul said.
The impact sent the car several feet into the air before crashing into a Customs and Border Protection booth and bursting into flames, Hochul said. He described footage of the incident as “absolutely surreal”.
An officer working the booth was treated for minor injuries, he said.
The vehicle was “basically incinerated” and pieces of the remains were scattered at more than a dozen checkpoints, the governor said.
Rickie Wilson saw the car fly past him “almost like in a movie” and for a moment thought it was a plane, the witness told CNN affiliate WKBW.
After the crash, federal investigators scrambled to determine whether the incident was an act of terrorism. Within hours, officials shared their preliminary findings and assured the public that they had found no indication of terrorist motivation.
“But we will continue to be alert. “We will continue to make sure that the information we have is conveyed to the public,” U.S. Attorney Trini Ross of the Western District of New York said at a news conference.
The leaders of both the United States and Canada were briefed about the incident while the investigation was underway. The initial explosion also It triggered heightened security precautions across the region, including the evacuation of local government offices on the U.S. side.
Buffalo Niagara International Airport closed to arriving and departing international flights, but later lifted the restriction, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration. All cars entering the airport were also being checked by bomb-sniffing dogs, a spokesperson for the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority said. and Amtrak temporarily suspended part of its cross-border route that connects New York with Toronto.
Officials investigating the crash had been investigating an individual, but working through the Joint Terrorism Task Force did not initially find any concerning information, FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew Miraglia said Wednesday afternoon.
“We do not have any derogatory information about this person that we have identified,” he said. “We are scanning their social media, there is nothing there. “We are still conducting a full investigation, so it is a preliminary assessment.”
Then on Wednesday night, the FBI announced it had concluded its investigation at the scene and turned the case over to the Niagara Falls Police Department as a traffic investigation.
The two people killed are pending identification and notification of their next of kin, Niagara Falls Police Superintendent John Faso said in a statement Thursday.
“Due to the complexity of the incident, the investigation will take some time to complete,” Faso said.
CNN’s Pete Muntean, Raja Razek, Dave Alsup, Josh Campbell, Sabrina Souza and Lauren del Valle contributed to this report.