Officials say fatal Pride parade crash appears to be accident
The fatal truck crash at a Pride parade in South Florida on Saturday appears to be an accident, according to officials, contrary to initial speculation it was a terrorist attack against the gay community.
Wilton Manors Police Chief Gary Blocker told The Hill in an email the crash was “not a criminal act directed at anyone, or any group of individuals.”
Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Paul Rolli and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis also said early investigation into the crash shows it was an accident, according to The Associated Press.
“The early investigation now indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident, but nobody’s saying finally what it is,” Rolli told the AP in a phone interview.
A white pickup truck ran over two people in Wilton Manors, Fla., a small community near Fort Lauderdale, before a Pride parade on Saturday, leaving one person dead and another seriously injured. The truck reportedly barely missed Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who was also in attendance at the parade.
Trantalis, Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor, initially called the incident “a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” before clarifying his remarks Sunday to say the crash appears to be an accident.
“I was an eyewitness to the horrifying events. It terrorized me and all around me … I feared it could be intentional based on what I saw from mere feet away,” he said in a Sunday statement. “As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in which a truck careened out of control.”
My statement following yesterday’s events in Wilton Manors is below.
I want to thank our first responders for their efforts as police and medical personnel immediately attended to the scene. pic.twitter.com/lahwAQPO3C
— Mayor Dean J. Trantalis (@DeanTrantalis) June 20, 2021
The driver, identified as a 77-year-old man who was a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, was taken into custody, according to the AP.
The group, the wire service noted, is a small 25-member group made up of primarily older men.
The driver was a participant in the parade “who had ailments preventing him from walking the duration of the parade and was selected to drive as the lead vehicle,” according to a statement from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.
The truck hit two pedestrians, both male members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, according to police. One of the men was pronounced dead after being transported to the Broward Health Medical Center with serious injuries. The second pedestrian is still at the hospital but is expected to survive, according to police.
Police said the driver is cooperating with an investigation, and he showed “no signs of impairment” following a DUI investigation.
“Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver is also a part of the Chorus family. To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community,” the chorus group’s president Justin Knight said in a statement, according to the AP.
He called the crash “an unfortunate accident.”