A member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus apologized Monday after he lost control of his pickup truck and drove through a weekend Pride event, hitting and killing a fellow choir member and injuring two others.
As the Stonewall Pride Parade was set to begin Saturday in Wilton Manors, a small city that sits just north of Fort Lauderdale, Fred Johnson Jr. suddenly accelerated, officials said. James Fahy, 75, of Fort Lauderdale, died in the crash, according to authorities.
“I offer my sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event. I love my Chorus family and the community and would never do anything to intentionally harm anyone," Johnson, 77, said in a statement on Monday. "Please know that I hold my fellow Chorus member, Jim Fahy, in my heart forever and offer my condolences to his friends and family.”
Fort Lauderdale police identified the two other men who were injured as Jerry Vroegh, 67, of Fort Lauderdale, and Gary Keating, 69, of Oakland Park.
Vroegh was taken to a hospital and released on Monday, according to police. Keating was treated for minor injuries and released the day of the crash.
The truck was part of the chorus' entry in the Stonewall Pride Parade in Wilton Manors, according to the organization's leaders, who added that the crash was not a targeted attack against the LGBTQ community.
Mayor Dean Trantalis, who attended the parade, initially described the crash as a “terrorist attack on the LGBT community.” But on Sunday, Trantalis clarified that while this assertion had appeared “obvious” to him and others at the time, facts uncovered by investigators showed the crash appeared to be an accident involving a truck that “careened out of control.”
“My heart breaks for all impacted by this tragedy,” he said.
The crash occurred about a week shy of the anniversary of the historic 1969 Stonewall uprising, which was widely credited with igniting the modern-day LGBTQ rights movement.
Police said Johnson was cooperating with investigators, who have found no evidence that drugs and alcohol were factors in the crash. No arrests have been made in connection with the incident.