NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. – A speeding car went airborne and exploded at a checkpoint in Niagara Falls at the U.S.-Canada border on Wednesday, killing both the driver and passenger. U.S Customs and Border Protection (CBP) released stunning footage showing the incident that sent fears of a terrorist attack.
As Hamas sympathizers protest throughout the U.S. and the threat of terrorism elevated due to the war in the Middle East, there were initial suspicions that the explosive incident at the northern border was some sort of attack, the Daily Wire reported.
Moreover, those fears were fueled by a reporter who said sources told her the incident was an “attempted terrorist attack” and that the car was “full of explosives.”
Nevertheless, government and law enforcement officials have downplayed the startling incident and said there are no indications that it had anything to do with terrorism.
“Based on what we know at this moment, and again anything can change, there is no sign of terrorist activity with respects to this crash,” New York Governor Kathy Hochul said.
Video of the speeding vehicle going airborne and subsequently exploding was released by CBP Wednesday evening.
WATCH (vehicle is seen at the very top of the video):
CBP is working closely with @FBI, federal, state & local partners in response to a vehicle explosion at Rainbow Bridge which remains closed. Out of abundance of caution, CBP temporarily suspended inbound/outbound traffic at 3 other Buffalo crossings that have since reopened. pic.twitter.com/pTXyUsavRB
— CBP (@CBP) November 22, 2023
The crashing vehicle was described as a Bentley sedan that was traveling up to 100 mph when it rammed into a median near the checkpoint area on the American side of the Rainbow Bridge at around 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday, the New York Post reported.
As a result of striking the median, the car went flying into the air and burst into a fireball before hitting the ground and smashing into pieces.
According to Post sources, investigators believe the occupants of the vehicle, a man and a woman, may have been heading from a casino in Niagara Falls to a Kiss concert at the Scotiabank Arena in Ontario.
Hochul and the sources said the driver, a Western New York resident, was going “at a high rate of speed” when he swerved into a US Customs and Border Patrol barrier at a checkpoint on the US side. It never made it to the Canadian side of the border.
“If you can imagine, this vehicle basically incinerated. Nothing is left but the engine. The pieces are scattered over 13, 14 booths,” Hochul told reporters.
“So it is a large scene and it’s going to take a lot of time for our federal law enforcement partners … to be able to piece together the real story…”
A CBP officer who was assigned to the checkpoint booth sustained minor injuries and was treated at a hospital and then released, Hochul confirmed.
Local police investigators as well as the FBI ruled out the possibility of a car bomb, sources said, according to the New York Post.
Witness Mike Guenther saw the vehicle racing toward the crossing. Suddenly the driver swerved to avoid another car before striking the barrier and launching into the air.
“All of a sudden, he went up in the air and then it was a ball of fire like 30 or 40 feet high,” Guenther told WGRZ-TV.
An Instagram video posted by sal.alwishah showed some of the aftermath.
At a news conference following the incident, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge Matthew Miraglia said there was no indication that the dramatic crash was related to terrorism, reported the Daily Wire reported.
“We do not have any derogatory information on this person that we’ve identified, we’re scanning his social media, there’s nothing there, we’re still running a full investigation so that’s a preliminary assessment,” Miraglia said. “We feel, at this point, this might be just something that occurred, there’s no larger picture here to look at for now.”