Astonishing footage of car in moments before Niagara Falls blast
Source: US Customs and Border Protection
Astonishing footage has emerged of the final moments of the car that exploded at a busy Niagara Falls border crossing, killing two people.
It came as US authorities ruled out terror in the blast on Wednesday (local time) on the Rainbow Bridge linking Canada with the US that prompted the closure of the border crossing and three others between western New York and southern Ontario.
The FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force was mobilised to investigate the incident, according to New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who said later one of the people involved was a local from western New York state.
Two people in the vehicle died in the blast and a border patrol official was injured. At least one of those in the car have been identified, although their name and other details have not been released.
US authorities said on Thursday they believed the people in the car, a 2022 Bentley, were a husband and wife who had planned to attend a Kiss concert in Canada. When it was cancelled, it’s believed the man went to a casino in the US instead.
Investigators believe he was driving the vehicle at a high speed when it hit a curb, then a guardrail that sent the vehicle airborne into the secondary screening area of Rainbow Bridge.
While US Customs and Border Protection officials had not ruled out a deliberate attack, preliminary evidence did not suggest that, they said.
Canadian broadcaster CTV News, citing unnamed national security sources, said initially that government officials were operating under the assumption that the vehicle blast was terror-related.
But FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia said later that there were no indications of a terror threat.
“We do have someone in mind for it and we’re working through it through the [Joint Terrorism Task Force],” he said.
“We do not have any derogatory information on this person that we’ve identified. We’re scanning his social media, there’s nothing there. We’re still running a full investigation so that’s a preliminary assessment.
“We feel, at this point, this might be just something that occurred – there’s no larger picture here to look at for now.”
Trini Ross, the US Attorney for the Western District of New York, echoed the assessment, saying that the preliminary investigation determined the incident “was not terrorism-related”.
“But we will continue to stay vigilant,” she said, adding locals could “lower their heightened sensitivities knowing that we do not believe this was a terrorist event”.
Hochul said later she couldn’t confirm the origin of the speeding vehicle. It was travelling extremely fast before it crashed, she said – which appears to be confirmed by video from security cameras at the Rainbow Bridge crossing that showed it becoming airborne behind the border gates.
“It’s a western New York resident who was most likely in that vicinity prior to the high speed, high rate of speed, extraordinarily high rate of speed that led to the crash into the median that sent the vehicle airborne,” Hochul said.
Niagara Falls Memorial Medical Centre said it evaluated and treated a single patient with non-life-threatening injuries related to the incident. That patient was later discharged, the hospital said.
The Niagara Gazette newspaper, citing law enforcement sources, said the car sped onto the bridge plaza, went through a fence separating the inbound lanes from the outbound lanes, and toward the inspection lanes, where it exploded.
CNN, citing unnamed sources, said the car had come from the Canadian side toward the US.
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 in the aftermath as a precaution, the New York governor’s office said. They have since been reopened.
The three bridges carrying road vehicles across the Niagara River between Ontario and New York state are among the busiest border crossings in the world. The Whirlpool Bridge carries railway traffic and vehicles.
Security measures were also escalated at airports and railways in the region managed by the Niagara-Frontier Transit Authority, the governor’s office said.
Buffalo International Airport has closed to all international flights, the Federal Aviation Administration said on its website.
Security also was tightened at various locations around New York City, Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement.
Law enforcement teams in Canada also were “actively engaged in assessing the situation,” Ontario Premier Doug Ford said in a post on X.