A member of a men’s chorus group unintentionally slammed into fellow chorists at the start of a Pride parade in south Florida, killing one member of the group and seriously injuring another, the group’s director said on Sunday.
The statement clarified initial speculation that it was a hate crime directed at the gay community.
The Wilton Manors vice-mayor, Paul Rolli, and the Fort Lauderdale mayor, Dean Trantalis, said the early investigation shows it was an accident. The driver was taken into custody, but it was unclear whether he had been charged.
“The early investigation now indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident, but nobody’s saying finally what it is,” Rolli told the Associated Press in a phone interview.
The driver and the victims were a part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family, a small 25-member group of mostly older men.
“Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver is also a part of the Chorus family. To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community,” president Justin Knight said in a statement on Sunday, calling it “an unfortunate accident”.
Fort Lauderdale police detective Ali Adamson told reporters on Saturday that authorities were investigating all possibilities from the collision. The police department did not immediately respond to additional questions about the investigation on Sunday.
Trantalis, who is Fort Lauderdale’s first openly gay mayor, initially told reporters the act was deliberate, adding to the confusion on Saturday night.
“It terrorized me and all around me … I feared it could be intentional based on what I saw from mere feet away,” he said in a Twitter statement on Sunday. “As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in which a truck careened out of control.”
Wilton Manors is a tight-knit community near Fort Lauderdale with a vibrant downtown filled with cute shops, where people line up for Rosie’s famous hamburgers or to gossip and drink at Georgie’s Alibi Monkey Bar.
Photos and video from the scene showed the Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz in tears while in a convertible at the parade.
In a statement on Saturday night, Wasserman Schultz said she was safe but “deeply shaken and devastated that a life was lost”.