Fort Lauderdale's mayor is apologizing for his comments calling the fatal crash at the Wilton Manors Pride parade a "terrorist attack" after officials said they believe the driver unintentionally hit the spectators.
"I regret the fact that I said it was a terrorist attack because we found out that it was not. But I don’t regret my feelings. I don’t regret that I felt terrorized by someone who plowed through the crowd," Mayor Dean Trantalis said at a vigil for the victims of the crash Sunday night.
Saturday’s crash at the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade initially drew speculation that it was a hate crime directed at the gay community after Trantalis, who witnessed the crash first-hand, called it a "terrorist attack" on the LGBTQ community.
Trantalis, who is Fort Lauderdale's first openly gay mayor, initially told reporters the act was deliberate, adding to the confusion Saturday night.
“It terrorized me and all around me … I feared it could be intentional based on what I saw from mere feet away," Trantalis said in a Twitter statement Sunday. “As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in which a truck careened out of control.”
But Fort Lauderdale Police said the man behind the wheel was a 77-year-old man who was selected to drive in the parade because of ailments that prevent him from walking.
One person was killed and another was seriously injured in the crash, which officials called a "tragic accident."
The driver was taken into custody but police said no charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.
The driver and the victims were a part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family, a small 25-member group.
“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 Sunday, calling it “an unfortunate accident."