Motorist Reportedly Stopped at Casino Before Explosion at Border Bridge

Posted on: November 23, 2023, 06:18h. 

Last updated on: November 23, 2023, 11:06h.

Occupants of a car which exploded at the U.S.-Canada border Wednesday visited New York State’s Seneca Niagara Casino shortly before the horrific crash, news reports revealed.

News of the crash spread globally, given initial fears of terrorism. But as authorities investigated the deadly crash, it appeared the driver and passenger were heading into Canada when their car went out of control before bursting into flames.

Massive flames at Rainbow Bridge
Massive flames at Rainbow Bridge after a car became airborne and landed on pavement at the U.S.-Canada border. The occupants had been at a casino minutes earlier. (Image: CBS News)

The reported the unnamed 56-year-old driver and his wife perished instantly after his Bentley struck a border station at 11:27 a.m. at the Rainbow Bridge.

The fancy vehicle was traveling at speeds as high as 100 mph and then struck a curb and guardrail, became airborne, and exploded after landing in a screening area, according to media and eyewitness reports. Massive flames, perhaps as high as 30 to 40 feet, followed. Debris from the car spread over the pavement at the bridge linking the U.S. and Canada.

As authorities investigated the incident, it was reported the New York businessman and his wife stopped at the Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino before the crash.

“We are cooperating with law enforcement in their investigation into the incident that occurred near the Rainbow Bridge,” a casino spokesman told

We have reviewed and provided information related to a vehicle that stopped at Seneca Niagara Resort & Casino only for a matter of minutes shortly before the crash occurred.”

The duo may have gone to the casino to change money, unnamed sources told the news outlet.

Initial reports from CNN said the driver may have suffered a “medical emergency” before the crash.

The two were heading to a Kiss concert in Canada, but it was canceled, CNN reported.

The driver reportedly lived in Grand Isle, New York.

Terrorism-Link Investigated

Authorities later announced the crash was not believed to have been linked to terrorism, despite initial concerns.

Police vehicles at Rainbow Bridge following an explosion
Police vehicles at the Rainbow Bridge following an explosion. (Image: NBC News)

The crash led authorities to close Rainbow Bridge and three other bridges between New York State and Canada. Officials briefed President Joe Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about the deadly incident.

Specialized crews from the New York City Police Department rushed to investigate the crash, as did a wide variety of federal experts on terrorism.

Officials were concerned it took place on Thanksgiving Eve at a border crossing. It also took place as there is heightened security nationwide because of risk of terrorist activities, given the current war between Israel and Hamas.

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer suffered minor injuries from the crash. He was treated at a local hospital.

Eyewitness Account

One eyewitness, Dan Ziraldo, told the Niagara Gazette he had just left the Seneca One Stop near Seneca Niagara Casino when he saw smoke at the Rainbow Bridge. He went closer.

It looked like a vehicle just crashed into the bridge,” he told the news outlet.