At first it was feared that it was a deliberate attack, which was finally dismissed by the police authorities.
Fort Lauderdale Police announced that the 77-year-old driver of the van participated in the holiday and was selected to drive the lead vehicle due to “ailments that prevented him from walking for a time.”
The white van had started to advance in anticipation of the start of the parade when it “accelerated unexpectedly, hitting two pedestrians” before crashing into the fence of a nearby business, police said in a statement.
The three involved in the crash were members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Choir, police said, adding that the driver cooperated with authorities.
The two injured were transported to a medical facility, one of whom later died, while the other remains hospitalized but is expected to survive, according to the statement.
“Today we know that what happened yesterday was a tragic accident and not a criminal act against any individual or group,” the Walton Manors Police Department said in a separate statement.
Justin Knight, president of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Choir, said it was an “unfortunate accident.”
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the unfortunate accident that occurred as the Stonewall Pride Parade began,” he said.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who was at the parade, initially told a local broadcaster that he thought the accident was “deliberate.” He later called it “a terrorist attack against the LGBT community” and claimed that the truck had targeted the car of Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was in a convertible waiting to participate in the procession, but did not achieve her goal.
Trantalis explained Sunday that he had initially “feared it might be intentional,” based on what he saw “a few meters away.”
“As events continue to be reconstructed, the impression of an accident emerges,” he finally said.