Falls police are investigating claims from a Falls man and woman that a carjacker was responsible for a crash that cut the power supply to the Aquarium of Niagara early Sunday morning.
Officers were called to the aquarium at 701 Whirlpool St. about 1:10 a.m. Sunday for a report of a car accident and found a 2013 Chevy Impala with temporary Texas tags that expired on Nov. 24 heavily damaged and sitting on the east side lawn of the aquarium. Two Niagara Falls residents were sitting on Niagara Falls Fire Department vehicle being treated for injuries.
The man and woman said they were asleep in the unlocked, running vehicle on Pierce Avenue near Main Street. The man said he was in the front passenger seat and the woman said she was in the rear seat. The pair said they awoke to find an unknown man driving the vehicle. The man said he started fighting with the suspect, who was driving at a high rate of speed on Whirlpool Street. The vehicle struck the curbing just south of Cedar Avenue and did a 360-degree spin, struck two utility poles and landed in the lawn of the aquarium.
The man said the suspect then fled east down Pine Avenue on foot. Officers said both the man and woman adamantly denied they were driving the vehicle at the time of the accident.
Officers noted that the left-side front and rear doors were jammed shut and it was unclear how the suspect was able to exit the vehicle and flee the scene.
Officers spotted a pair of security cameras nearby that may have captured part of the incident.
Officers also noted that the vehicle hit two small city trees as it was spinning out of control. Both utility poles were snapped. A National Grid official also said an underground high-voltage cable supplying a transformer box was also heavily damaged with a cost to repair between $15,000 and $20,000. The cable supplied power to the aquarium which was closed to the public Sunday due to a lack of electricity.
Aquarium staff said their are extensive protocols in place that prioritize animal safety in the case of a power loss, and the animal collection is unharmed.
The incident is being further investigated. The report noted that no intoxicants were located near or in the vehicle.