A couple from Grand Island, New York has been identified as the occupants of the car that crashed into the U.S.-Canada border crossing on the Rainbow Bridge on Wednesday, resulting in a deadly fiery explosion.
The Niagara Falls Police Department announced on Friday that Kurt P. Villani, 53, and his wife Monica Villani, 53, were killed in the crash. The incident is currently being investigated by the NFPD Crash Management Unit, and no further details are available at this time.
The FBI had previously stated that there was no connection to terrorism, and they had turned the case over to the Niagara Falls Police Department for a traffic investigation. On Wednesday night, the FBI released a statement saying, “A search of the scene revealed no explosive materials and no terrorism nexus was identified.”
The Department of Homeland Security also conducted database queries on the couple and found no criminal history or derogatory information. The Villani family owned Gui’s Lumber in Niagara Falls.
In a statement released to ABC News, the Villani, Maniccia, and Gui’s Lumber families said, “We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all that extended prayers, condolences, and well wishes. We are deeply touched. At this point, we are requesting privacy so we may begin the process of healing.”
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul reassured the public that there was no evidence of a terrorist attack and no indication of any explosives at the scene. She also stated that security was increased on both sides of the border crossing and briefly shut down international arrivals and departures at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport.
Two people were killed when a vehicle exploded Friday on the U.S. side of the Rainbow Bridge, which connects the U.S. to Canada at Niagara Falls, New York.
The vehicle sped toward a border checkpoint at the U.S. side of the bridge and hit a concrete barrier, multiple sources… pic.twitter.com/ri3HMr2WEG
— ABC News (@ABC) November 22, 2023
Gov. Hochul also confirmed that a bomb squad had responded to the crash to investigate and clear a potentially dangerous item, believed to be a suitcase or briefcase, at the scene. The Rainbow Bridge was reopened to traffic on Thursday evening, and the other three border crossings in the area were opened on Wednesday.
The incident occurred around 3 p.m. on Wednesday when a vehicle crashed into a border checkpoint booth on the U.S. side of the Rainbow Bridge. The vehicle went airborne and exploded, causing chaos and panic at the scene. Emergency responders rushed to the bridge and attempted to contain the situation as best they could.
The crash prompted an immediate increase in security measures at all border crossings in the area, causing delays and inconvenience for travelers. The cause of the crash is still under investigation, and the Niagara Falls Police Department has not released any further details at this time.
The tragic death of Kurt and Monica Villani has left the community in shock. The couple was well-respected and loved in the area, and their loss has been deeply felt by family, friends, and customers of Gui’s Lumber. The families have requested privacy during this difficult time as they begin the healing process.
As the investigation into the crash continues, authorities are urging anyone with information to come forward and assist in the case. The incident serves as a reminder for everyone to be cautious and vigilant at all times, as tragedies like this can strike at any moment.