Cops considering medical or mechanical episode in US-Canada border car crash - Hindustan Times
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Cops considering medical or mechanical episode in US-Canada border car crash

Nov 26, 2023 06:04 AM IST

Investigation underway to determine the cause of fatal car crash at Niagara Falls, New York.

The tragic car accident at a border checkpoint in Niagara Falls, New York, on Wednesday, killed a local couple who owned several businesses in the area. The authorities are investigating whether a mechanical failure, a medical condition, or some other factor caused the crash.

FILE PHOTO: A vehicle burns at the Rainbow Bridge U.S. border crossing with Canada, in Niagara Falls, New York, U.S. November 22, 2023 in a still image from video. Courtesy Saleman Alwishah via REUTERS (via REUTERS)
FILE PHOTO: A vehicle burns at the Rainbow Bridge U.S. border crossing with Canada, in Niagara Falls, New York, U.S. November 22, 2023 in a still image from video. Courtesy Saleman Alwishah via REUTERS (via REUTERS)

The victims were identified as Kurt P Villani and Monica Villani, both 53 years old. They were driving a 2022 Bentley Flying Spur, a luxury car that costs about $200,000. The Villani family runs a chain of hardware stores and a lumber company in the Buffalo region.

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According to Niagara Falls mayor Robert Restaino, the couple may have been going to a Kiss concert in Canada, but the show was canceled hours before. The Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino, which is located near the Rainbow Bridge where the accident occurred, confirmed that the couple had briefly visited the facility before the crash.

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The accident happened when the Bentley sped through an intersection at the bridge, hit a low median, and flew into the air. The car then crashed into a row of security booths and exploded into flames.

Niagara Falls police superintendent John Faso said that the investigation was still in its early stages and that it would take time to determine the cause of the crash.

“They’ll look for mechanical issues, weather issues, whether this was a medical event,” Faso said.

“We’re going to be looking at everything. Speed, mechanical issues, whatever information we can get from it.”

The crash initially sparked fears of a possible terrorist attack and led to the closure of several border crossings with Canada. Some media reports also claimed that there were explosives involved in the incident.

However, the FBI ruled out any evidence of terrorism or explosives and handed over the case to the local police, who are treating it as a traffic accident.

The incident also drew some political reactions from lawmakers who raised concerns about border security. For example, Pennsylvania congressman Mike Kelly, a Republican, said that he had “warned about the surge of suspected terrorists entering through our northern border”.

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The car was so badly burned that only the engine and some charred debris remained. The police said that they were trying to recover the car’s black box, which could provide vital information about the speed, braking, and other aspects of the vehicle’s performance. However, finding the black box was challenging due to the condition of the scene.

“It’s one thing to piece together a seen or an intact vehicle – you can go from here,” Faso said.

“Obviously, that’s not what we have in this situation. That’s the major obstacle right now.”

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