A car crash at a Stonewall Pride March in Wilton, Manors, Florida on June 19 that left one man dead and another seriously injured occurred when a vehicle “accelerated unexpectedly,” according to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department. There is no indication at this point that it was an intentional act.
A 77-year-old man — identified as a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus — was unable to walk the length of the march and instead drove a white pickup truck, according to police. While at the 1500 Block of Northeast Fourth Avenue, the vehicle accelerated, struck two members of the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and proceeded to crash into a fence at a business on the side of the street.
The victims were taken to Broward Health Medical Center, where one man was pronounced dead while the second victim is expected to survive his injuries. As the police department investigates the incident, the individuals involved have not been publicly named and no arrests have been made.
Police say the driver has been cooperating with investigators and results of a DUI investigation revealed there were no signs that the driver was under the influence.
Out gay Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who witnessed the incident, initially assumed it was an act of terror spawned by a spate of attacks on the LGBTQ community, Local10 reports. However, as developments unfolded, he backtracked.
“Last evening, at the start of what was to be a celebration of pride for the LGBT community and commemoration of our hard-won victories for equality, our community faced the worst of tragedies,” Trantalis said in a subsequent post on Facebook. “The grief of our LGBT community — and greater Fort Lauderdale as a whole — is palpable. I was an eyewitness to the horrifying events. It terrorized me and all around me. I reported what I saw to law enforcement and had strong concerns about what transpired — concerns for the safety of my community. I feared it could be intentional based on what I saw from mere feet away.”
Trantalis added, “As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in which a truck careened out of control. As a result, one man died, two others were injured and the lives of two members of Congress were at risk. My heart breaks for all impacted by this tragedy.”
The Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival returned to the community after organizers put the in-person event on hold last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. According to the organization’s guidelines, individuals seeking to drive in the parade must be at least 18 years old, show a valid driver’s license, ID registration, and insurance. Alcohol is not permitted at the festival.
Stonewall Pride Parade and Street Festival CEO Jeffrey Sterling said the organization is still reeling from the incident.
“We are devastated by the tragic accident on June 19 at the start of the Stonewall Pride Parade at the Fort Lauderdale High School,” Sterling said in a written statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the deceased, the other individuals involved, and the Chorus family. As we await the result of the police investigation, we ask the community to come together and pay tribute to the life lost so tragically.”
In a statement on Facebook, the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus said they are “deeply saddened” by the fatal collision, adding that the incident was the result of an “unfortunate accident.”
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