Man at Florida Pride Parade Is Struck and Killed by Driver
The police said on Sunday that the vehicle a 77-year-old man was driving “accelerated unexpectedly” as the parade began and struck two people in what investigators described as a “tragic accident.”,
The driver of a pickup truck accidentally struck and killed one man and injured another as marchers were getting ready to begin a Pride parade in South Florida on Saturday, the police said.
The police in Fort Lauderdale said on Sunday that the driver was a 77-year-old man who was unable to walk in the parade because of unspecified “ailments.”
The vehicle the man was driving “accelerated unexpectedly” as the parade began and struck two people, the police said.
“After striking the pedestrians, the driver continued across all lanes of traffic, ultimately crashing into the fence of a business on the west side of the street,” the police said.
The police, who conducted an investigation for drunken driving at the scene, said the driver showed “no signs of impairment.”
The F.B.I. and the police investigated and determined that the crash was a “tragic accident” and “not a criminal act directed at anyone,” Gary Blocker, the chief of police for the Wilton Manors Police Department, said in a statement on Sunday.
The crash happened just before 7 p.m. on Saturday as officials and marchers were gathered for the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade. The parade is an annual event in Wilton Manors, a city of about 12,750 residents, just north of Fort Lauderdale and home to a large L.G.B.T.Q. community.
Both men who were struck were members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, the police said on Sunday.
Justin Knight, president of the chorus, which was participating in the parade, said in a statement on Saturday that the driver was “a part of the Chorus family.”
The authorities have not released the name of the man who died. The other man who was struck was expected to survive, but he remained hospitalized on Sunday afternoon, the police said.
The driver has been cooperative with investigators, the police said, adding that there have been no arrests made.
“We’re speaking with all involved parties — to include witnesses, the driver — we’re doing all that we can to make sure that we do the most complete and accurate investigation and don’t rule out anything prematurely,” Detective Ali Adamson, a spokeswoman for the Fort Lauderdale police said at a news conference on Saturday night.
Sheriff Gregory Tony of Broward County, Fla., said the driver had struck the two men within feet of him and others from the Broward Sheriff’s Office, and that they were “devastated having witnessed this horrific incident.” He said emergency workers had “instantly provided care for the victims.”
The parade was canceled after the crash.
“What started as a celebration quickly turned to tragedy at today’s Stonewall Pride Parade,” Sheriff Tony said in a statement.
Nikki Fried, Florida’s commissioner of agriculture and consumer services, who was at the parade, said she had heard from other people that the driver had sped out of a parking lot where participants in the parade had gathered. She said the truck ended up in a canal across the road.
She said many paradegoers had feared that the driver had intentionally targeted L.G.B.T.Q. people. “Unfortunately, in times like this, that’s where everybody’s mind is going,” she said.
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida, was also among the elected officials who were getting ready to take part in the parade when the driver hit the two men.
“I am deeply shaken and devastated that a life was lost and others seriously injured at tonight’s Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade,” she said in a statement. “I am so heartbroken by what took place at this celebration.”
Eduardo Medina contributed reporting.