I live in Wilton Manors. When the incident happened last night, like most people, my first thought was that it had been another in a series of car-related terrorist attacks by the Right. Indeed, the Mayor of Fort Lauderdale, Dean Trantalis (a family friend, for what it’s worth) gave a statement right away that it had been intentional and a “terrorist attack on the gay community”, which unfortunately added fuel to that speculation. Most witnesses there seemed to think it had been just that, as well. 

That is not what happened. 

This was just a horrible accident. The driver is gay and a member of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Fort Lauderdale and part of the community here – and what he told police was apparently true: when his turn was next in the parade, his foot became stuck between the gas and the break and he lost control of the vehicle, crashing through a fence and tragically killing one person (another member of the Gay men’s chorus), seriously wounding another and almost hitting Rep. Wasserman-Shultz. 

I understand why Mayor Trantalis and other witnesses thought what they witnessed was an attack — and it speaks both to the climate we’re living in and to the violence of the Right recently that it was the first reaction to think it was an attack. But what followed the incident also speaks to our need as a community to *wait for the facts* before making incendiary statements (and incendiary headlines) which can make situations worse and possibly lead to more violence. 

From Newsweek:

Officials believe that an incident in which a man was killed and another seriously injured after a driver hit spectators at a Pride parade in South Florida on Saturday evening was an accident.

The driver of the pickup truck that hit the crowd during the Wilton Manors Stonewall Pride Parade was reportedly part of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus family and was not purposely targeting the LGBTQ community.

“Our fellow Chorus members were those injured and the driver is also a part of the Chorus family,” the group’s president Justin Knight said in a statement, via NBC.

“To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community.”

Chris Caputo, Wilton Manors City Commissioner, also tweeted that “it seems increasingly probable” that the collision was an accident.

We’re all praying for the family of the person who was killed here in Wilton Manors and praying that the second victim, still clinging to life at Broward hospital, survives. 

If the driver’s accident was caused by being drunk (it should be noted that there’s no evidence that he was, as of this writing), then he should go to prison. If he wasn’t drunk and it was literally his foot being stuck for a deadly few moments, I pray for his soul as the rest of his life will be haunted by those few moments last evening — and what he could have done, if anything, to have prevented it.

The gay community here in Wilton Manors is devastated by what happened. Perhaps even moreso because it was an accident, which allows no focus for outrage or sadness — just the inculpable chaos of life and the horror that can happen at any moment to any of us.

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