A vehicle near the New York-Canadian border crashed and exploded after hitting a curb and going airborne on Wednesday morning.
While officials were initially concerned about a terrorist attack, the FBI has since determined that the incident has no connection to terrorism. They also found no explosive materials in the area.
According to officials, two people, who were believed to be a married couple, were killed in the explosion. Their identities have not yet been released as their families are still being notified.
The incident took place on one of the busiest days in the country as many people were travelling for Thanksgiving. Due to the holiday, there was also a heightened awareness, with the White House closely monitoring the situation for developments. The Department of Homeland Security was also in contact with Canadian authorities.
Since the incident has no connection to terrorism, the FBI has turned the case over to the local police department.
The Niagara Falls Police Department also thanked the Seneca Niagara Resort and Casino for their help in the investigation. According to one of their statements, the vehicle had stopped there for several minutes before hitting a curb at a checkpoint and crashing.
Officials also said the car was traveling at a high speed near the U.S. side of the border when it exploded and went up in flames.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said at a news conference that the vehicle eventually collided into a median and struck one of the many border crossing booths. She had described the scene as ‘absolutely surreal’ after viewing the footage. She also re-emphasized the fact that it is not an act of terrorism.
Rickie Wilson, who drives for Gray Line Tours, was at the border when the incident happened. He said he couldn’t believe what he was seeing when he noticed the ‘airborne’ car.
He had initially thought it was an airplane before realizing that it was a vehicle. He told reporters that the car soared as high as 15 feet into the air before ultimately crashing and exploding into a ball of flames.
The car was completely incinerated in the explosion, with nothing left except for the engine. Burnt bits and pieces could be seen lying on the floor next to booths 13 and 14.
A customs and border officer suffered minor injuries in the incident and was taken to a hospital, where they received medical treatment. They have since been released.
According to Hochul, the individual was working at the booth that the vehicle had crashed into and it was the same booth that protected them from further injuries.
Following the incident, all bridge crossings into the United States were shut down. The city was also on heightened alert, leading to increased security.
Travelers at the International Airport in Buffalo, New York, were also given additional screenies.
Cars entering the airport also underwent additional security checks, with the Niagara Transportation Authority increasing security across their system.