Tributes pour in for couple killed in fiery crash on Rainbow Bridge

Friends in the upstate New York community of Grand Island spoke out after the couple died in the crash at the border between the US and Canada

Namita Singh
Friday 24 November 2023 09:47

Related: Smoke billows from Niagara Falls explosion as two people dead in vehicle blast

Tributes are pouring in for the New York couple who were killed in the fiery car crash on the Rainbow Bridge which connects the US and Canada.

Though they are yet to be formally named by investigators, devastated friends, neighbours and loved ones in the upstate New York community of Grand Island know the victims’ identities and are devastated by what has happened.

The husband and wife were members of Niagara Sailing Club on Grand Island, the club’s treasurer Scott Henderson told NBC-affiliate-WGRZ.

“Not only were people talking but then I made an announcement and some people were just incredibly shocked,” he said.

“It’s just not only a younger couple like that, but so ingrained and influential in this community.”

The couple’s friend Chuck Meyer also revealed his shock when he learned that the tragedy broadcast on national news involved those close to him.

“I got home yesterday (Wednesday). I didn’t know anything other than hearing things on the news about the border, and then saw that their driveway was filled up with all these cars,” he told the local outlet on Thursday.

“I thought, ‘Oh, they’re having Christmas or Thanksgiving early, and like, that’s really nice.’ And then about an hour later, heard the news and I’m like, ‘oh my God.’”

Investigators are still probing what led to the fiery crash on the bridge, that sparked a security scare and prompted the brief closure of four US-Canadian border crossings on Wednesday.

Police stand guard as the Peace Bridge, one of four major crossings into the US from Canada, is closed after a car crashed and exploded at The Rainbow Bridge on 22 November 2023

The Niagara Falls Police Department’s Crash Management Unit has taken over the investigation after federal agencies, including the FBI, determined that it did not appear to be a terrorist attack.

“Due to the complexity of the incident, the investigation will take some time to complete,” Niagara Falls Police Department Superintendent John Faso said in a statement.

“At this time the identity of those involved is pending positive identification and notification to next of kin.”

Video of the crash, caught on security camera and posted to X, by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency, showed the car travelling from the US side at high speed, then hitting a curb and flying into the air before crashing to the ground and exploding in flames.

The driver and passenger both died. A CBP officer also suffered minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital and released.

A sign indicates that all bridges between the US and Canada are closed after a car crashed and exploded at The Rainbow Bridge on 22 November 2023

CNN reported that the driver was a 56-year-old man travelling with his wife to attend a concert by the rock group KISS.

The crash unfolded at a time of heightened security concerns around the world stemming from the Israel-Hamas conflict and at the peak of US holiday travel on the eve of Thanksgiving celebrations.

The Rainbow Bridge and all three other border crossings along the Niagara River between western New York and the Canadian province of Ontario – the Peace Bridge, the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge and the Whirlpool Bridge – were shut for several hours as a precaution.

The three bridges that were not involved were reopened early Wednesday evening, before the Rainbow Bridge reopened on Thursday.

Additional reporting from the agencies

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