‘No sign of terrorist activity’ in fatal Rainbow Bridge vehicle explosion: NY State Governor

By Michael Talbot

In an update Wednesday night New York State Governor, Kathy Hochul, said there’s no indication so far that the fatal vehicle explosion at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls was an act of terror.

“Based on what we know at this moment … there is no sign of terrorist activity with respect to this crash,” Hochul stressed.

Two people who were in the vehicle that burst into flames at the border crossing before 11:30 a.m. Wednesday morning are dead, authorities earlier confirmed.

The blast, which one eyewitness said occurred after a speeding vehicle lost control on the U.S. side of the border, prompted the closure of all four international bridges between Canada and Western New York.

The Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, Peace Bridge, and Whirlpool Bridge have since reopened.

The Rainbow Bridge remains closed.

Hochul said the car was driver by a local Western New Yorker, but the reason it sped to its fiery obliteration is still not known.

“It crashed into a customs and border patrol booth and the car and the booth immediately exploded,” she said. “I saw the video of an airborne vehicle, it was absolutely surreal.”

A border officer was taken to hospital with minor injuries, but has since been released.

Hochul said the vehicle was almost entirely incinerated, with only parts of the engine left behind.

FBI Investigating

In a social media post, the FBI Buffalo Field Office said it was investigating the situation, which it called “fluid.”

“The FBI is coordinating with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners in this investigation. As this situation is very fluid, that’s all we can say at this time.”

Witness Mike Guenther told WGRZ-TV that he saw a vehicle racing toward the crossing from the U.S. side. The vehicle swerved to avoid another car before crashing into a fence, flying into the air, and exploding in dramatic fashion, he recounted.

“All of a sudden he went up in the air and then it was a ball of fire like 30 or 40 feet high,” Guenther said. “I never saw anything like it.”

“It was just a fireball and smoke everywhere.”

Guenther said the vehicle was driving at excessive speeds, swerving and “fish tailing” before the crash.

“He was flying over 100 miles an hour,” he explained.

Videos posted to social media show flames and heavy smoke near a security check-point booth.

Fire damage is visible to the customs plaza structure at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing in Niagara Falls, N.Y., on Nov. 22, 2023
Fire damage is visible to the customs plaza structure at the Rainbow Bridge border crossing in Niagara Falls, N.Y., on Nov. 22, 2023. (Derek Gee/The Buffalo News via AP)

Ontario Premier Doug Ford issued a statement saying: “Our provincial law enforcement is actively engaged in assessing the situation. They are working with local law enforcement and are providing support as required.”

Toronto police, meanwhile, say they are increasing their presence in the city, while Peel police have been deployed to Pearson Airport as a precaution.

With files from The Associated Press

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