THE driver who lost control of his pick-up truck and plowed through a crowd at a Pride parade over the weekend has apologized for the "horrible accident" that left one man dead.
Fred Johnson, 77, killed James Fahy, 75, and wounded two others when he crashed his Dodge Ram truck into the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus during a Pride event in Wilton Manors on Saturday night.
Johnson, who is also a member of the chorus, was identified as the driver by police on Monday.
Shortly afterward he released a statement, saying: "This was a horrible accident and I offer my sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event.
"I love my Chorus family and the community and would never do anything to intentionally harm anyone.
"Please know that I hold my fellow Chorus member, Jim Fahy, in my heart forever and offer my condolences to his friends and family," he wrote.
While Saturday's deadly crash remains under investigation, police have said that it appears to have been caused by a "horrific accident."
Jonhson reportedly told investigators that his foot became stuck between the gas pedal and the brake, causing him to lost control of the vehicle just moments after the parade began.
He has ailments that "prevented him from walking the duration of the parade", so instead, he was selected to drive the truck baring the chorus' banner, the group said.
The 77-year-old's car had been lined up with floats and other vehicles when it accelerated suddenly, sending "bodies flying up in the air," one witness said.
Johnson's car smashed into a crowd of parade participants, before veering across two lanes and crashing through the fence of a garden center.
It was there where his vehicle finally came to a stop. Video captured him getting out from the driver's seat before being taken into custody by police.
He narrowly missed a vehicle carrying Democratic US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was pictured in tears in the aftermath of the crash.
Witnesses told local media Johnson was protesting it "was an accident" as he was led away in cuffs.
Fort Lauderdale's Mayor Dean Trantalis – the city's first gay mayor – caused confusion in the aftermath by declaring the incident an "attack on the LGBT community" before later suggesting it was an accident on Twitter.
Gay Men's Chorus member James Fahy died from his injuries Saturday just hours after being struck by Johnson's vehicle.
Founding director of the chorus Gary Keating, 69, and Jerry Vroegh, 67, were both hit but survived.
Keating was treated and released from the hospital on Saturday, while Vroegh was discharged on Monday.
Other members of the choir have revealed their heartbreak over Fahy's death. They've also rallied around Johnson, who they say is "beside himself" with guilt.
"I talked to him yesterday and today," chorus member Bradley Bush said of Johnson. "He's just really, really beside himself. … It's going to be a burden that he's going to carry the rest of his life."
Bush added that he sang alongside Johnson in the tenor section for more than 10 years, calling him an "absolutely amazing person" who "wouldn't hurt a fly."
He also paid tribute to Fahy, calling him a "sweet and shy man" who regularly volunteered in his local community and "was incredibly dedicated to the chorus."
The group hasn't yet convened since the accident. Many of its members are still "numb" and in disbelief, according to Bush.
"We are a family," he said. "You get close to them quickly because you´re on stage with them, you´re sharing weekly or more rehearsals."
Chorus President Justin Knight also released a statement, reiterating that Fahy's death has had a profound effect on the local community.
"He was a longtime, valued member of our Chorus family and he will be deeply missed,” Knight said.
“We wish a speedy recovery for Chorus member Jerry Vroegh who was injured in the accident. We thank everyone for their concern, compassion, and support.”
Thomas Cusack, 61, another chorus member, said Johnson and Fahy were friendly with one another and shared a passion for the organization's mission to inspire others through song.
"I don’t use the word family much, but this chorus really is one," he told the Sun-Sentinel.
He described Fahy as "just a very nice man" who was "friendly to everybody."
Johnson is not currently facing any charges in relation to Saturday's crash.
Source: Read Full Article