FBI ends investigation into Niagara Falls car explosion and rules out terrorism

Collision at US-Canada border brought tension as US drivers headed into Thanksgiving holiday

A Customs and Border Protection officer watches as a vehicle burns at the Rainbow Bridge US border crossing with Canada, in Niagara Falls, New York. Reuters
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The FBI has ended its investigation of a fiery car wreck that killed two people at a border checkpoint in Niagara Falls after finding no evidence that it was a terror attack, easing a period of high tensions as Americans headed into the Thanksgiving holiday.

The FBI's decision late Wednesday came several hours after the vehicle raced through an intersection, hit a median and was launched through the air before slamming into a line of booths and exploding at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. Local police are now handling the case as a traffic investigation.

“A search of the scene revealed no explosive materials, and no terrorism nexus was identified,” the FBI's Buffalo office said in a statement. “The matter has been turned over to the Niagara Falls Police Department as a traffic investigation.”

The investigation has been taken over by the Niagara Falls Police Department’s Crash Management Unit, according to a news release from the city's police department, which added: “Due to the complexity of the incident, the investigation will take some time to complete.”

The two people who died were a husband and wife, according to a person briefed on the investigation who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to release information about the people who were killed.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul said the driver was a western New York resident, but the identities of those in the car have not yet been released.

The crash prompted the closure of the Rainbow Bridge and three other bridges connecting western New York and Ontario, as federal officials swarmed the area, trying to figure out what led to the high-speed wreck. Both US President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau received briefings.

Car explodes in Niagara Falls on US-Canada border

Car explodes in Niagara Falls on US-Canada border

Hours later, officials sought to calm concerns on what is one the busiest travel days of the year.

“Based on what we know at this moment,” Ms Hochul said at a news conference, “there is no sign of terrorist activity in this crash".

Later on Wednesday night, New York Senator Chuck Schumer said investigators had found “no connection" to any terrorist or criminal group. He added that there was no evidence of chemicals or substances used in explosives during investigators' swabbing of the scene

Updated: November 24, 2023, 8:04 PM