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Gui’s Lumber Family Members Involved in Crash at Canadian Border

Gui’s Lumber operates seven Ace stores in western New York.

The couple who died at the crash and explosion at the Canadian border the day before Thanksgiving have been identified as Kurt P. Villani and his wife Monica, members of the family who own Gui’s Lumber & Home Center in western New York. The couple, both 53, were residents of Grand Island, N.Y., and are survived by their children Kurt Jr. and Mia.

Kurt worked in the family lumber business started in 1986 by his parents, Gail and Kurt M. Villani. Kurt M. Villani passed away in August 2022. Gui’s Lumber operates seven Ace-affiliated home centers and hardware stores in Batavia, Clarence, Grand Island, Hamburg, Niagara Falls, North Collins and Springville, N.Y.

In media reports, the couple were cited for their generosity and kindness, citing involvement with the Boys and Girls Clubs of Niagara Falls and for helping rebuild the Niagara Sailing Clubhouse after a fire. Kurt P. and Kurt Jr. were lauded in 2014 for giving out turkeys at Thanksgiving, a tradition started by their father and grandfather, Kurt M.

The accident, which occurred on one of the busiest traffic days in North America, has received extensive—sometimes erroneous—media coverage. On November 22 at 11:27 a.m., a Bentley Flying Spur driving at an estimated speed of 100 mph crashed into a median in the city of Niagara Falls in Western New York, near the Rainbow Bridge crossing into Canada. After going airborne several feet, the car crashed into a Custom and Border Patrol booth and exploded into flames.

The vehicle was incinerated with nothing left but the engine, according to a release from the New York State governor’s office. Debris from the crash was scattered over more than a dozen border checkpoint booths. 

The scene immediately became the site of an investigation with representatives from the Customs and Border Patrol, FBI and Homeland Security investigating the incident. Within two days, the FBI announced that the incident was not related to any terror attack.

The FBI has stated that there was no explosive material found at the scene. The Niagara Falls police department is looking into the case as a traffic investigation. Investigators have conjectured that a mechanical failure or medical condition may be the cause of the accident.

Gui’s Lumber operates full-service lumberyards and Ace Hardware stores that strive to provide top-notch customer service and supply the highest-quality products at the lowest prices.

The Hardware Connection expresses our deep condolences to the Villani family. The Erie County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement from the family: “We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to all that extended prayers, condolences and well wishes. We are deeply touched. At this point, we are requesting privacy so we may begin the process of healing. Thank you.”

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