What to know about the couple that died in vehicle explosion at Canada-U.S. border

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Investigations are continuing into a deadly vehicle explosion at the Canada-U.S. border crossing in Niagara Falls on Wednesday, but there is no evidence that it was terrorist-related.

Here’s what we do know.

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What happened at the Rainbow Bridge?

Shortly before noon Wednesday – the day before the start of the U.S. Thanksgiving Day long weekend, a period of heavy travel in the States – a vehicle entered the bridge on the American side.

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It accelerated to a high speed and hit a curb, sending it over a barrier and into a screening area, where it hit a Customs and Border Protection booth and then exploded. The two occupants inside were killed. An officer working in the booth was treated for minor injuries.

The bridge and two other nearby border crossings were temporarily shut down. The Rainbow Bridge where the explosion occurred remained closed as of Thursday morning.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said that footage of the incident was “absolutely surreal,” adding that the vehicle was “basically incinerated,” with pieces of wreckage scattered across more than a dozen checkpoint booths.

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Who was in the car that ‘basically incinerated’?

Hochul told a news conference on Wednesday night that the vehicle, believed to be a Bentley, was associated with a western New York resident.

Investigators believe the occupants were a New York man and his wife who had planned to attend a KISS concert in Toronto that night. The tour’s Ottawa and Toronto dates were cancelled when vocalist Paul Stanley came down with the flu. The couple is believed to have gone to a casino on the U.S. side, with the crash occurring after that.

Jim Diodati, mayor of Niagara Falls, Ont., said he believes the couple were in their sixties and were small-business owners in the community.

“It was a health issue and that’s what led to the car going at such an accelerated rate,” he said, adding that official details of what happened will be confirmed by an autopsy.

When will the bridge reopen?

Diodati said the bridge is expected to reopen in a day or two.

“The damage as we understand it is superficial as far as the bridge is concerned,” he said Thursday, adding that U.S. authorities will make the final decision on when to reopen the bridge.

Has terrorism been ruled out?

Although the nature and location of the event suggested a terrorist attack, the FBI soon reported that there was no sign of terrorist involvement, and that no explosive materials had been found at the scene. They subsequently turned the case over to the Niagara Falls Police Department for a traffic investigation.

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