New York Police Identify Couple Killed in U.S.-Canada Border Crash

A Customs and Border Protection officer watches as a vehicle burns at the Rainbow Bridge U.S. border crossing with Canada, in Niagara Falls, New York, U.S. November 22, 2023. (Saleman Alwishah via Reuters)

(Reuters) — New York police on Friday identified the man and woman who were killed when their car crashed and burst into flames on the bridge linking New York state and Ontario at Niagara Falls, sparking a Thanksgiving eve security scare.

Niagara Falls police said Kurt and Monica Villani, both 53 and from Grand Island, New York, were the occupants of the car. The incident was still under investigation by the Niagara Falls police Crash Management unit on Friday.

Video of the Wednesday crash, caught on security camera by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, showed the car traveling from the U.S. side of the border at high speed, then hitting an object and flying into the air before crashing to the ground and exploding in flames.

A CBP officer suffered minor injuries at the crash site, was treated at a nearby hospital and later released, an agency official said.

The incident immediately raised concerns of a terrorist attack, prompting the closure of four U.S.-Canadian border crossings in the area on Wednesday and a halt on international flights at Buffalo International Airport, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

An initial investigation by U.S. federal agencies, including the FBI, found it was not terrorism-related.

CNN reported the driver was intending to attend a in concert in Canada, but when the concert was canceled, he went to a club in the U.S. instead. The crash occurred sometime after the couple left the club, CNN reported, citing investigator sources.

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