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Victims of Niagara Falls crash identified as husband and wife from Western New York

Kurt and Monica Villani, both 53, were both killed in a deadly explosion after their vehicle crashed and went airborne on Rainbow Bridge.
/ Source: NBC News

The two victims who died on Wednesday in a deadly explosion on the U.S.-Canada border have been identified as a married couple from Grand Island, New York, said Niagara Falls Police.

Monica and Kurt P Villani, both 53, crashed on Wednesday morning while driving down Rainbow Bridge, which leads into and out of Canada at Niagara Falls. People who witnessed the accident said the car went airborne after it struck a cement median. It then caught fire and exploded when it hit a border crossing booth.

“The City of Niagara Falls would like to extend our sincere condolences to the families as they deal with this tragedy,” said Niagara Falls Police Superintendent John Faso in a news release.

A light colored vehicle, top, flies over a fence into the Rainbow Bridge customs plaza, Wednesday, in Niagara Falls, N.Y., Nov. 22, 2023.HOGP / Customs Border Protection via AP

The couple’s names were released Friday morning, after police had waited to identify them so that their family could be notified. No additional details about the couple were provided.

The couple’s relatives did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

Grand Island, where the couple lived, is less than 10 miles from Rainbow Bridge. It is an island town in Erie County, New York.

In a news briefing on Thursday afternoon, Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino said investigators believed the pair were headed to a KISS concert on Wednesday night. The concert was canceled because frontman Paul Stanley was sick with the flu, according to a post by the guitarist on X.

A spokesperson for Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino on the U.S. side of the border said the couple stopped at the casino for “a matter of minutes shortly before the crash occurred.”

Police said the crash is still under investigation, but have determined that there were no explosives or a connection to terrorism.

Following the crash, cross-border travel at Rainbow Bridge was suspended until 6:30 p.m. the following day, said a post on X by U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

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