Rickie Wilson stopped by the One Niagara building in downtown Niagara Falls on Wednesday morning to talk to a co-worker on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday.
While standing in the parking lot, he saw something he never thought he’d see: A car flying through the air near the entrance to the Rainbow Bridge to Canada.
“I came down to the One Niagara building to see how the sales guy was doing,” said Wilson, a tour bus operator with Gray Line of Niagara Falls. “I closed the door to my car and about 30 feet from me I saw something airborne. I thought it was an airplane. It looked like slow motion and I said, “My God, it’s a car.”
Wilson said the vehicle hit a concrete barrier before the bridge crossing, went sideways in the air and struck “something” near the toll plaza. He said he did hear a sound of “metal-on-metal,” but did not hear an explosion. He said law enforcement was at the scene quickly, with officers arriving by his estimation in about “five minutes.”
“My prayer was, ‘Please, don’t let any of the officers get hit over there and then all of the sudden, black smoke,” Wilson said. “No explosion. We all heard it, the people in the building heard it – metal-on-metal. Then, all of a sudden, I saw black smoke and then fire. There was no explosion. Just the black smoke. Then there was so much smoke, it was unbelievable.”
Wilson, who has been a guide in Niagara Falls for 15 years, said he was interviewed by the FBI on Wednesday and gave them a statement.
He reported still being “shaken” by the incident hours after it happened.
“To me, it was like slow motion when the vehicle was up in the air,” Wilson said. “He was just airborne. I can’t imagine how he got that high up so he must have been going at quite a speed for that to happen.”
It was like a movie. It’s strange because I can play it in my mind very fast or in slow motion and it’s like a movie.