Niagara Falls, NY – The Rainbow Bridge, connecting the U.S. and Canada, was the site of a tragic incident on November 22, 2023, as a vehicle raced towards a border checkpoint, collided with a booth, exploded, and went airborne. Two passengers, identified as a husband and wife, lost their lives in the incident, according to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) document obtained by ABC News. These individuals have been identified as Kurt P. Villani and Monica Villani. One of the victims was revealed to be a resident of Western New York, as confirmed by Governor Kathy Hochul.
The DHS, after conducting database queries, stated that neither of the victims had a criminal history or incriminatin information. Despite the catastrophic nature of the event, both the FBI and Governor Hochul asserted that there was no evidence of terrorism. The FBI concluded its investigation, handing over the case to the Niagara Falls Police Department as a traffic investigation.
“The investigation will take time,” Governor Hochul stated, highlighting the extensive damage to the vehicle and the scattered debris over 13 booths. She also noted the absence of a license plate, adding to the complexities of the ongoing probe.
During the incident, one booth agent was injured and promptly treated at a hospital, later being released. Governor Hochul emphasized the potential for more severe consequences, describing the area as “very congested” and stating that the outcome “could have been very cataclysmic.”
The Rainbow Bridge, closed in both directions since the incident, is set to reopen on Thursday evening. The Peace, Queenston-Lewiston, and Whirlpool-Rapids Bridges in Canada, initially closed as a precaution, have resumed normal traffic.
Security measures were heightened at various border crossings and airports in response to the incident. Buffalo Niagara International Airport increased security with car checks and additional screenings. In Toronto, police patrols were intensified, and in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams assured increased security measures in light of the incident.
President Joe Biden has been briefed on the explosion, and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern, pledging to take additional measures at border crossings across the country.
While the investigation is ongoing, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas reiterated that the incident did not appear to be terror-related in a statement posted shortly after Governor Hochul’s news conference.
As the community grapples with the aftermath of this tragic event, the focus remains on uncovering the details surrounding the incident and implementing additional security measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.
Written by Ava LeFevreShare this: