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Truck Plows Into Wilton Manor Pride, Killing One and Injuring Another

Truck Plows Into Wilton Manor Pride, Killing One and Injuring Another

Truck Plows Into Wilton Manor Pride, Killing One and Injuring Another

The driver and victims were all members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, and investigators now say the incident was a horrible accident rather than an intentional act.

Tragedy struck the Stonewall Pride Parade in Wilton Manors, Florida over the weekend when an out-of-control truck accelerated across the parade route, killing one man and injuring another. While early witnesses thought the act was intentional, investigators quickly determined the crash was a terrible accident. According to investigators, the truck was supposed to be the first vehicle in the parade, and the elderly driver unexpectedly accelerated when he thought the parade had started. The driver and the victims are all members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus and police do not suspect drugs or alcohol as having played a role in the tragic events.

"Our community remains heartbroken for the innocent life lost and the gentleman who was injured," Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton said in a statement following the incident. "Our thoughts and prayers remain with their loved ones."

According to the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, the 77-year-old man driving a 2011 white Dodge truck was waiting in the staging area prior to the start of the parade in the 1600 block of northeast 4th Avenue. The unnamed driver was a participant in the parade as a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus, but unspecified ailments prevented him from walking the route. Instead, he was selected to drive the lead vehicle.

Police said the driver, who remained on the scene and fully cooperated with investigators, moved the truck forward, thinking the parade was about to start. The truck accelerated unexpectedly and lurched forward, striking two fellow members of the Fort Lauderdale Men's Chorus and continuing across all lanes of the street and parade route before coming to rest against a chain link fence. Both unidentified marchers struck by the truck were taken to Broward Health Medical Center by Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue where one man was pronounced dead. The second man remains in hospital but is expected to survive. At this point, authorities are describing the incident as an accident rather than an intentional attack on the community.

U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz attended the parade and was reported narrowly missed by the truck. She later tweeted she was "deeply shaken and devastated" at the loss of life.

"I am so heartbroken by what took place at this celebration," Wasserman tweeted. "May the memory of the life lost be for a blessing."

One of the many who initially suspected the incident was a hate crime or terrorist attack was Fort Lauderdale Mayor and eyewitness Dean Trantalis, but he later issued a statement saying it now appeared to be a horrific accident for everyone involved, rather than an intentional act against the community.

"Law enforcement took what appeared obvious to me and others nearby and investigated further -- as is their job," Trantalis said in a statement issued Sunday. "As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in which a truck careened out of control. As a result, one man died, two others were injured and the lives of two members of Congress were at risk. My heart breaks for all impacted by this tragedy."

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