Fort Lauderdale, Fla. (AP) – At the start of the Pride Parade in South Florida, members of the Men’s Chorus unwittingly crash into another choir, killing one member of the group and another. The members were seriously injured, corrected the director of the group on Sunday. The first speculation that it was a hate crime directed against the gay community.
Deputy Mayor Wilton Manors Paul Lolli and Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said initial investigations showed it was an accident. The 77-year-old driver was arrested, but police said he had not been charged and an investigation was underway.
According to a Fort Lauderdale police statement on Sunday, an elderly driver said he was cooperating with the investigation and there was no evidence that drugs or alcohol were involved, diseases which prevented from walking. had.
“In the first few inquiries, it looks like a tragic accident, but no one is saying what it is at the end,” Lori told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
The drivers and the victims were members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus Family, a small group of 25, mostly older men.
“Our fellow choir members are injured and the driver is also part of the choir family. As far as I know, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community, ”President Justin Knight said in a statement on Sunday. , called “unfortunate accident”.
Rolli was on the tank in front of the chorus truck with Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis and other city officials in a staging area where the tank was ready. Trantalis said the driver of the van suddenly sped up when told he was on the next parade and collided with the victims.
Police said the driver continued to cross all lanes and eventually collided with a fence across the street.
Lori was on the other side of the float and did not witness the crash, but immediately jumped up and ran towards the victim. We did not know what had happened in the turmoil.
“People were really upset and some were crying,” Lori said. And there were not many parade participants because the accident happened in the area where the tanks were lined up. “I got a call from someone waiting for the parade”, is that true? “Is this true or is there something to be worried about?” I don’t know at that time. “
Fort Lauderdale Police were not arrested for conducting a full investigation with the FBI and said the statement “considering and assessing all possibilities” did not include anything. Declared.
Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor, Trantalis, first told reporters the act was intentional and contributed to Saturday night’s unrest.
“It terrified me and everything around me… I was afraid it was intentional from what I saw a few feet away.” He said Sunday in a statement on Twitter. “As the facts continue to be assembled, photos of a fleeing truck crash appear.”
Wilton Manors is a community close to Fort Lauderdale, with plenty of cute shops in the bustling downtown area, eating Rosie’s famous burgers and gossip and drinks at George’s Alibi Monkey Bar. You can drink.
Photos and videos from the scene show U.S. Democrat MP Debbie Wasserman Schultz crying in a convertible during the parade.
In a statement on Saturday night, Wasserman Schultz said she was safe, but “deeply shaken and devastated by death”.
“I am very sad about what happened during this celebration,” she said. “May the memory of the lost life be for the blessing. “
A spokesperson for the choir said the director did not want to be interviewed, adding that many of the small group witnessed a fatal accident and were deeply upset.
“The reason people like Wilton Manners are the whole community is one big family, that’s how we treat each other… and that really rocked a lot of people,” Lori said. Mentionned. “Even if it’s an accident, you just lose your life.”
June is Pride Month, commemorating the June 1969 uprising following a police raid on gay customers at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. It sparked the gay rights movement.
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