- The Magazine
One person was killed and one has been hospitalized after a pickup truck drove into a crowd of spectators at the start of the Wilton Manors Stonewall Parade and Festival on Saturday night.
The white pickup truck was lined up with other floats on Wilton Drive, near 16th Street, in Fort Lauderdale, when it accelerated and ran over two people who were standing nearby, according to Christian De La Rosa, a TV reporter with Miami ABC affiliate WPLG who was on scene. It then crashed into a plant nursery across the street.
First responders rushed to help the victims, who were transported to Broward Health Medical Center, where the first victim was pronounced dead. The other victim is expected to survive, according to Fort Lauderdale Police Detective Ali Adamson.
The names of the victims have not yet been released to the public.
Many spectators said that they initially believed the crash to be an intentional act.
“We were at the start of the parade, right in front of Fort Lauderdale High School,” spectator Christina Currie, who was there with her husband and their two elementary school aged children, told the Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale’s local newspaper. “All of a sudden there was a loud revving of a truck and a crash through a fence. It was definitely an intentional act right across the lanes of traffic.”
In the immediate aftermath, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who is openly gay, declared the melee a “terrorist attack against the LGBTQ community,” adding: “This was clearly no accident.”
Trantalis said he saw the driver jump out of the truck and claimed he was screaming vulgarities when detained by police.
Some spectators appeared to believe it was intentional because the pickup truck narrowly missed hitting a convertible carrying U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was participating in the parade.
“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.”
Police took the driver, who was wearing a T-shirt with the logo of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus on it, into custody. Some witnesses claim they heard the driver telling police it was an accident.
The Wilton Manors Police Department tweeted that the Pride parade was canceled due to the “tragic event,” although it reiterated that there was no danger to the public at this time.
Due to a tragic event, the Stonewall Pride Parade has been cancelled but the festival events will continue.
*THERE IS NO DANGER TO THE PUBLIC.* https://t.co/als3T0MG4m
— wmpd411 (@WMPD411) June 20, 2021
Justin Knight, the president of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, later issued a statement explaining that the two victims and the drive were all members of the chorus.
“To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community,” Knight said in his statement.
Asked if the driver was being charged, or if he might have been under the influence, Adamson reiterated that police were talking to the driver as they continue their investigation. The FBI joined the investigation Saturday night, reports Newsweek.
“Today, at the start of the Stonewall Pride Parade a truck struck two pedestrians in the 1700 block of NE 4th Ave,” the Fort Lauderdale Police Department tweeted. “Fort Lauderdale Police and Wilton Manors Police send our deepest condolences to those injured and to those affected. We ask for patience as we work to conduct a thorough and complete investigation.”
Today, at the start of the Stonewall Pride Parade a truck struck two pedestrians in the 1700 block of NE 4th Ave. #FLPD & @WMPD411 send our deepest condolences to those injured and to those affected. We ask for patience as we work to conduct a thorough and complete investigation. pic.twitter.com/zV7QUndsSu
— Fort Lauderdale Police (@ftlauderdalepd) June 20, 2021
According to a senior official briefed on the incident who spoke with CBS Miami, the driver of the truck is telling police that his foot was stuck between the gas pedal and the brake causing him to lose control of the truck, the official said.
U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch (D) and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is running for Florida governor next year, were also in attendance at the parade.
“Devastated by the horror we saw at Wilton Manors Pride. Mourning life taken & praying for injured & families of both. Intensely grateful for police who sprung to action before us to save lives. I’m so sorry, Wilton Manors. I’m so sorry, my friends,” Deutch tweeted.
Devastated by the horror we saw at Wilton Manors Pride.
Mourning life taken & praying for injured & families of both.
Intensely grateful for police who sprung to action before us to save lives.
I’m so sorry, Wilton Manors. I’m so sorry, my friends. 🏳️🌈💔 https://t.co/Cofmz4Ezzy
— Rep. Ted Deutch (@RepTedDeutch) June 20, 2021
Fried recounted her view of the incident, saying she was “praying for [the victims] and their families.”
“We’ve learned that tragically one of the victims has passed away. Our hearts are breaking and we continue to pray no more innocent lives are lost,” she tweeted.
We’ve learned that tragically one of the victims has passed away. Our hearts are breaking and we continue to pray no more innocent lives are lost.
— Nikki Fried (@NikkiFried) June 20, 2021
These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and MetroWeekly.com remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!