New York husband and wife named as victims of Niagara Falls Rainbow Bridge explosion

The FBI confirmed the crash was not suspected to be terror-related, as an investigation continues into the couple's deaths.

Two people who died after a car exploded on a crossing over Niagara Falls have been named by police.

The incident happened at the US-Canada Rainbow Bridge border crossing on Wednesday, as a 2022 Bentley Flying Spur raced through an intersection, before flying into the air and crashing.

On Friday, chief of Niagara Falls Police John Faso told local media that the couple were a husband and wife from western New York.

Kurt P. Villani and Monica Villani, both 53, were from Grand Island, a suburb between Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all that extended prayers, condolences and well wishes," the victims' families said in a statement released by the Erie County Sheriff’s Office.

“At this point, we are requesting privacy so we may begin the process of healing.”

Police block off the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge on Wednesday. Credit: AP

Investigators are looking at whether medical or mechanical issues may have contributed, while the FBI confirmed it had found no signs of a terror attack.

The wreck prompted widespread concern and the bridge and three other nearby crossings were closed.

Speaking to WGRZ-TV, local Mike Guenther said he saw a vehicle speeding towards the crossing from the US side of the border when it swerved to avoid another car, crashed into a fence and exploded.

“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 said. “I never saw anything like it.”

The Niagara Falls Police Department has said the crash investigation will take time given the complexity.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul has described it as “surreal” and said the vehicle was “basically incinerated” with nothing left but the engine and a scattering of charred debris.

An estimated 6,000 vehicles cross the Rainbow Bridge each day, as it offers scenic views of Niagara Falls and is one of four border crossings connecting Ontario to western New York.

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