A car which smashed into the US-Canada border on Wednesday morning was a $300,000 Bentley driven by a New York businessman, it has emerged, as authorities reassured a jittery public that there was no known terrorist connection.
The 56-year-old businessman and his wife died when their Flying Spur plowed into the US checkpoint at high speed, bursting into flames at 11:27am.
They had been at the Seneca Niagara casino resort prior to the explosion – but were only there for ‘minutes’, a spokesman told DailyMail.com.
‘We are cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation into the incident that occurred near the Rainbow Bridge,’ the spokesman said.
‘We have reviewed and provided information related to a vehicle that stopped at Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino only for a matter of minutes shortly before the crash occurred.’
Sources within the casino said that the couple were not believed to be regulars, and were possibly only in the resort to change money.
Miller said there was some speculation the driver, from a well-known family in Grand Isle, New York, had a medical issue.
The pale-colored car, which CNN reported was a Bentley, is seen top right flying over the fence before it exploded
A Bentley Flying Spur, like the one being driven by the businessman and his wife on Wednesday
The car hit a fence and erupted into a ’40 foot fireball’ which left the ‘car pieces everywhere’
The husband and wife were in the Seneca Niagara casino for a few minutes before driving to the border, where they crashed
The dramatic crash closed the Rainbow Bridge on the eve of Thanksgiving – one of the busiest travel days of the year.
Kathy Hochul told a press conference on Wednesday evening the footage of fireball on Rainbow Bridge near Niagara was shocking, and it was miraculous that there were not more injuries.
But she urged calm, saying the two victims were believed to be local people and there was no indication of terrorism.
No explosives were found in the car, according to police sources.
One agent with Customs and Border Patrol suffered minor injuries in the crash. He was treated in hospital and has been released.
Asked how they had determined that it was not a terror attack, Hochul said: ‘No indication based on online threats or anyone taking credit for this – at this time.
She added: ‘It’s still unfolding. But I didn’t want to leave the public with any uncertainty.
‘There is no evidence at this time that there was terror activity.’
She said she appreciated the anxiety, and the assumption that it was a terror attack.
‘Based on what is happening in the world, everyone is on edge. This is an international border,’ she said.
‘I won’t call it an accident yet. All we know is there was a horrific incident, a crash, a loss of life – but at this time: no known terrorism activity.’
Officers with the NYPD were sent to assist the unfolding situation in Buffalo, New York City Mayor Eric Adams confirmed
Kathy Hochul, the governor of New York, is seen on Wednesday night giving an update about the crash
The FBI Special Agent-in-Charge, Matthew Miraglia, echoed Hochul.
‘We do have someone in mind for it and we’re working through it through the JTTF,’ he said – a reference to the Joint Terrorism Task Force.
‘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.
‘We feel, at this point, this might be just something that occurred, there’s no larger picture here to look at for now.’
Trini Ross, the US Attorney for the Western District of New York, said their initial investigation determined the incident ‘was not terrorism-related’ at this stage.
‘But we will continue to stay vigilant,’ said Ross, saying that people should ‘lower their heightened sensitivities knowing that we do not believe this was a terrorist event.’
Hochul said she wanted to ‘dial back the anxiety’.
The FBI’s field office in Buffalo said in a statement that it was investigating the blast, and investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also responding to the scene
The explosion on Tuesday claimed the lives of the vehicle’s two occupants and shut down three other bridges between western New York and Ontario
‘There are still a lot of unanswered questions,’ she said.
‘But at this time, we just needed to dial down the temperature.
‘We are investigating, but at this time there is no sign of terrorist activity.’
She said the footage of the crash was ‘extraordinary’.
‘It’s a Western New York resident who was in the city prior to the high speed crash into the median that sent the vehicle airborne,’ she said.
‘It will leave you in disbelief how it went so high over an eight foot fence. It’s quite extraordinary.’
She added: ‘The fact that other people and vehicles were not damaged… It was a very congested area.
‘Thank God no one else was injured.’
The White House confirmed the president has been briefed on the incident, while Canada’s prime minister, Justin Trudeau, said that ‘additional measures’ were being contemplated and activated at border crossings across his country.
Mike Guenther, from Ontario, said he was walking with his wife down Main Street when he saw the vehicle hurtling towards the Canadian border on Wednesday.
He described seeing ‘car parts everywhere in pieces’ after the horror smash.
‘He was swerving as he was going down this road here, fishtailing because he was going so fast,’ he said.
‘When he hit the fence there was a fire then, but then when he went up again he must have hit the building and there was a big noise and he just shot up in the air and you couldn’t see nothing but smoke.
Eye witness Mike Guenther described the terrifying moment he saw a vehicle ‘fishtail’ through traffic towards Rainbow Bridge at Niagara Falls in the minutes leading up to the explosion
A second witness described how officials ordered him to abandon his car and cross back into Canada on foot
‘We heard a big bang. I said there is no way that guy is going to stop, he is just going too fast.
‘All of a sudden he went up in the air and then it was a ball of fire like 30-40 feet high, I have never seen anything like it. It was really incredible.’
Guenther said fire trucks were first on the scene and within 10 minutes there were ‘police everywhere’.
‘We could see the fireball – that’s all we could see, it was just smoke everywhere,’ he added. ‘I don’t think that person is going to survive, their car parts were everywhere.’
He described the car as ‘flying’ at over 100mph.
‘We could hardly even see it was going that quick,’ he said.
‘There was car in front he swerved around it then it looked like he hit the fence and this fire started.’