More Details of Car Explosion on US-Canada Border Emerge: ‘Surreal’

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The two people killed when their luxury car crashed into a border checkpoint in Niagara Falls and exploded in a fiery wreck were identified Friday as a western New York husband and wife whose family owns a lumber business and several hardware stores in the Buffalo area.

The investigation into what caused the 2022 Bentley Flying Spur to race through an intersection, hit a low median and become airborne Wednesday continued, with investigators looking at whether medical or mechanical issues may have contributed, Niagara Falls Police Chief John Faso told local media.

The car slammed into a row of security booths at the Rainbow Bridge and burst into flames.

Police identified the couple as Kurt P. Villani and Monica Villani, both 53, of Grand Island, a suburb on the Niagara River between Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

Online business records and the company website indicate the victims’ family owns Gui’s Lumber and seven Ace Hardware locations in western New York, his family operating the business since the mid-1980s.

“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all that extended prayers, condolences and well wishes,” the families and the lumber company said in a joint statement released by the Erie County Sheriff’s Office on Friday. “At this point, we are requesting privacy so we may begin the process of healing.”

The wreck prompted widespread concern on both sides of the border, as video and images of what appeared to be the aftermath of an explosion began to circulate online and officials closed the bridge and three other nearby crossings.

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