Skip to main content

Two people dead in Rainbow Bridge vehicle explosion

Share

Two people are dead after a speeding vehicle went airborne and then burst into flames at a border checkpoint at the Rainbow Bridge on Wednesday morning.

It happened just before 11:30 a.m. on the U.S. side of the crossing.

Surveillance footage, released by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, shows the vehicle speeding down a road leading up to the border checkpoint. The vehicle then leaves the roadway, crosses over a median and appears to go airborne.

Officials have confirmed that two individuals inside the vehicle died as a result of the incident.

A U.S. border patrol officer also sustained minor injuries and was taken to hospital. They have since been treated and released.

“When you look at the scale of the scene, at how far the pieces of this vehicle exploded and scattered and the fact that there has been some damage to other vehicles, thank God there was nobody else injured,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul told reporters during a briefing on Wednesday afternoon. “It could have been much more cataclysmic.” 

At this point it is not clear what lead up to the incident, however Hochul said that there is “no evidence at this time” of terrorist activity.

Sources did tell CTV News earlier in the day that Canadian government officials were initially operating under the assumption that it was terror-related.

For that reason officials conveyed to police forces that they should increase their presence at likely terror targets, the sources said.

At around 9:40 p.m., Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Buffalo said it concluded its investigation into the incident, and that Niagara Falls police have taken over "as a traffic investigation."

“A search of the scene revealed no explosive materials, and no terrorism nexus was identified," the statement, shared on X, reads.

All Niagara border crossings were closed

Officials initially closed the Rainbow Bridge and three other Niagara border crossings following the explosion.

However, Ontario Provincial Police confirmed shortly after 5 p.m. that the Whirlpool Bridge, the Peace Bridge and the Queenston-Lewiston Bridge were reopening to traffic.

The Rainbow Bridge remains closed. The incident also led to flights being briefly grounded at Buffalo Niagara International Airport. During the news briefing, Gov. Hochul said the airport is open and "everything is normal."

One witness, who spoke with NBC’s Buffalo affiliate earlier in the day, said that he saw the car heading toward the border at a high-rate of speed immediately prior to the explosion.

“It was flying. Over 100 miles per hour (160 km/h),” Mike Guenther said. “It hit the fence and flew up into the air, and we’ve just seen the fireball. It was covered with smoke everywhere. It was going towards Canada.”

Hochul did not say where the vehicle was coming from, though she did say that it was most likely in the vicinity prior to the crash and was being operated by a resident of western New York.

She said that at this point officials are still investigating whether the collision was an accident or whether it may have been “intentional” in some fashion.

“When you see this video your jaw will drop in disbelief at how this (the vehicle) went so high, over an eight feet high fence, it is rather extraordinary,” she said. “This is not an isolated late night occurrence. This is the busiest travel day of the year.”

Premier Doug Ford said earlier on Wednesday that he was briefed in the aftermath of the incident and that the Ontario Provincial Police were “actively engaged in assessing the situation.”

The OPP said in a subsequent statement at around 5 p.m. that there “was no known threat to public safety in Ontario.”

“We recognize that incidents like these can have an emotional impact. The OPP is committed to keeping our communities safe and secure,” the said. 

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

How a DNA test solved the biggest mystery in one man's life

At 76 years old, Paul McLister learned the family he'd grown up with had kept a massive secret from him all his life. He also found answers to questions he'd pondered since childhood, and gained a whole new family — all because of a DNA test kit.

The shadow war between Iran and Israel has been exposed. What happens next?

Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel early Sunday marked a change in approach for Tehran, which had relied on proxies across the Middle East since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October. All eyes are now on whether Israel chooses to take further military action, while Washington seeks diplomatic measures instead to ease regional tensions.

Stay Connected