The tragedy happened at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 19, in Wilton Manors, about 10 miles north of Fort Lauderdale, just as the Stonewall Pride Parade in Wilton Manors was getting underway Saturday night, one man was killed, and another was injured when they were run over by a pickup truck.
As Local 10 News reporter Christian De La Rosa witnessed, the white pickup truck was lined up with other floats when it accelerated and ran over two guys waiting to join the parade on Wilton Drive near 16th Street.
It’s unclear whether it was deliberate, according to police.
Later that evening, though, indications emerged that the incident might have been a terrible accident. The driver was wearing a Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus t-shirt and driving a pick-up truck with a rainbow flag.
The chorus’s president, Justin Knight, claimed through a spokesman that the driver was “part of the Chorus family” and that chorus members were injured.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the tragic accident that occurred when the Stonewall Pride Parade was just getting started,” Knight stated. “Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver was also a part of the Chorus family. To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community. We anticipate more details to follow and ask for the community’s love and support.”
Per CBS 4, the driver informed police that “that his foot became stuck between the gas pedal and the brake causing him to lose control of the vehicle.”
The truck came within inches of hitting U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was riding in a convertible in the parade. As emergency responders came on the scene and provided CPR to a person lying on the road, she was seen in tears.
“I am deeply shaken and devastated that a life was lost and others seriously injured at tonight’s Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade,” Wasserman Schultz said in a statement. “My staff, volunteers and I are, thankfully, safe. I want to thank our first responders for their heroic efforts as both police and emergency medical personnel stepped into action quickly. We’re praying for the victims and their loved ones as law enforcement investigates and I am providing them with whatever assistance I can. I am so heartbroken by what took place at this celebration. May the memory of the life lost be for a blessing.”
The truck missed Wasserman Schultz’s car “by inches” before slamming through a gate and into a plant nursery, according to Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who was at the parade.
Meanwhile, Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried was also at the parade, and after the tragedy, she tweeted out a message to her followers.
“I’m lucky to be safe, but at least two people were hit and are in critical condition,” she wrote. “All of us here all praying for them and their families.”
The parade was canceled, but organizers stated that other festival events would go on as planned.
“A tragic incident occurred at today’s Stonewall event. Out of respect for everyone involved, the parade has been canceled and a thorough investigation is being conducted,”