Wilton Manors

Vigil For Victims Of Deadly Accidental Crash In Wilton Manors Brings Community Together

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Through song and words of encouragement, dozens of people honored the victims of the tragedy at Saturday’s deadly crash at the Stonewall Pride Parade in Wilton Manors.

The vigil was held at Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale.

“This was a pure accident," Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton said. "At first we didn’t know what it was.”

Just as the Stonewall Pride Parade was about to begin, the driver of a white Dodge Ram pickup truck hit two pedestrians.

Seconds later, surveillance video shows the truck plowing through a plant nursery and law enforcement responding.

“There was tragedy, but the response to it was actually quite inspiring,” said Durrell Watkins, Senior Minister at Sunshine Cathedral, who witnessed the accident.

"We hear this strange sound like a car accelerating and then we hear crashing noises and as we turn around we see a truck sort of plowing through trees and plants,” Watkins said.

Watkins says he instantly feared this was an attack on the LGBTQ+ community, but later learned it was an accident.

Fort Lauderdale police say the driver of the truck and the two victims are all members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus.

The 77 year-old driver was participating in the parade and was selected to drive as the lead vehicle because of physical ailments that prevented him from walking the duration of the parade. Police say no arrests have been made.

“When I heard whose truck it was, it just didn't make sense," said Robert Boo from the Pride Center at Equality Park. "That person...could not have done this on purpose.”

The Mayor of Fort Lauderdale Dean Trantalis also witnessed the tragedy and initially called it a terrorist attack, but later walked back his comments after preliminary findings from police.

“I regret the fact that I said it was a terrorist attack because we found out that it was not," Trantalis said at the vigil. "But I don’t regret my feelings. I don’t regret that I felt terrorized by someone who plowed through the crowd.”

The two victims have not been identified, but the victim who is in hospital is expected to survive.

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