Moments before it began on June 19, the Pride parade in South Florida was interrupted by a tragic event. As officials and spectators assembled for the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade, a driver of a white pick-up truck accelerated and crashed into the crowd. Two men, who were hit by the pickup, were rushed to a hospital, where one of them succumbed to injuries. At first, the incident was believed to be a hate crime against the LGBTQ community. But on Sunday, June 20, Paul Rolli, Wilton Manors Vice Mayor, and Dean Trantalis, Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, stated that according to the early investigation, the event appeared unintentional.
Although the investigation continues, no charges have been filed as of yet against the driver, 77, who was taken into custody. In a statement on June 20, the Fort Lauderdale Police said that the elderly driver had ailments that hindered his ability to walk. The police also added that he was cooperating with the investigation and there was no evidence of the use of drugs or alcohol.
Both the driver and the victims were part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus. The group comprises 25 members – a majority of them being older men. In a phone interview with the Associated Press, Rolli said, “The early investigation now indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident, but nobody’s saying finally what it is.”
Calling it an unfortunate incident, Justin Knight, president of the choral group, also stated that as both the driver and injured members were part of the group, to his knowledge, the incident wasn’t an attack on the LGBTQ community. Trantalis also shared that the driver suddenly accelerated when he was informed that he was next in line for the parade. He then proceeded to drive across all lanes of traffic and eventually crashed into a fence on the other side of the street, according to the police.