On Wednesday afternoon, we shared a breaking report on a car that first raced toward a border crossing area on the Rainbow Bridge between the U.S. and Canadian borders and then exploded, killing two. Early reports were that the incident was thought to be terror-related; authorities were also reportedly looking into the possibility of a second car being involved.
RedState’s coverage, as the minutes ticked by after the incident, included stunning video showing the car speeding towards the bridge, striking the curb, and launching into the air before it exploded while slamming into a guard house. And authorities said then they had learned one detail about the car passengers’ location beforehand from witnesses, as my colleague Jennifer Van Laar wrote: (emphasis mine)
While initial reports were that the vehicle came from Canada into the United States, some witnesses say that it came from the U.S. side, leaving a 7-Eleven a few blocks from the bridge then speeding down Niagara Street on the wrong side of the road before slamming into CBP’s secondary checkpoint.
But a revelation during a press conference on Wednesday night by the state’s governor, Kathy Hochul, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had found no connection to terrorism, changed the entire story 180 degrees.
As Thanksgiving morning dawned, authorities continued to comb through the wreckage for answers, and the investigation had now defaulted to being handled by Niagara Falls, New York, law enforcement officials, as they worked to piece together exactly what happened:
The Niagara Falls police took over the investigation after the F.B.I. concluded the crash on Wednesday was not related to terrorism, despite initial fears and a sweeping response by local, state and federal authorities, including closure of the border at several locations.[…]
Among the possibilities that investigators were considering on Thursday was whether the car, an older Bentley model, experienced a mechanical failure that caused it to accelerate, according to Robert Restaino, the mayor of Niagara Falls.
The process of figuring out what caused the incident could take more time–there’s no trace of the car left but “a burn scar” on part of the bridge. Police have now released what they know about the two people who perished in the explosion–including the fact that they were a husband and wife, and western New York business owners in their 50s:
The victims were a man and his wife from Grand Island, N.Y., both in their 50s, who owned several businesses in western New York, according to Mr. Restaino. He declined to release their names because the family had not been officially notified.
After more time looking into the couple’s movements before the explosion, there’s no mention of the convenience store stop; police now believe the couple’s departure point was a local casino:
On Thursday, the police department’s accident reconstruction team was tracing the couple’s journey from a casino downtown to the border crossing, examining surveillance video, the scene of the crash and other evidence collected by federal authorities.
A spokesman for the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, a towering gambling hall that dominates the city’s waterfront skyline, confirmed that the couple had been at the property for several minutes shortly before the crash.
From there, the car would have needed to travel a little more than a mile to the Niagara Falls International Rainbow Bridge, which straddles the Niagara River just downstream from the famous falls.
Mayor Restaino added that they had planned to head to a show in Canada, but those plans were scuttled:
Mr. Restaino said the couple had originally been headed to a concert in Canada, and investigators believe it was a Kiss show that was called off after a member’s illness.
As this is a developing story, RedState will bring you updates as they become available.