It’s been two weeks since a gay Minnesota man was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Fort Lauderdale, and his friends and family are still searching for answers about his final hours.
Glen Flaherty, 55, of Minneapolis was enjoying his time in Wilton Manors, his second home, when the trip was cut short by the tragedy.
“The world is a little darker today, a little less funny, a lot more boring with Glen not in it,” said his nephew, Patrick Haus.
Flaherty was a Realtor and owned properties in Minneapolis and Florida, traveling to Wilton Manors a few times a year. On April 8 shortly after midnight, police believe that Flaherty was crossing Northeast Fourth Avenue at the intersection of Northeast 16th Street, near Fort Lauderdale High School, when he was hit by a driver. The driver did not stop.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue responded to the scene, taking Flaherty to Broward Health Medical Center, where he died hours later.
Tim Jordan, who was vacationing in Florida with him, got the call from the police and almost didn’t answer because it was from a restricted number. He was told that his friend, who he’d known since grade school, was in critical condition.
“After two years, we finally got to have a vacation and this is how it ended. It’s just tragic on all points,” Jordan said. “He was very, very happy and really enjoying himself during our time there.”
Jordan met Flaherty in grade school in St. Paul, Minnesota, where they attended Catholic school together and grew up playing hockey. The youngest of nine children, Flaherty was proud of his Irish heritage and loved to celebrate holidays — he had a 10-by-16-foot storage container filled with holiday decorations. He also attended pride parades every year in his hometown. Still a practicing Catholic, he attended church regularly with an LGBT-affirming congregation. He also volunteered with the Listening House of St. Paul, where he collected clothes and coats for the homeless during the winter months.
After partnering with Jordan to run a property in Melbourne, Flaherty started visiting friends in the Fort Lauderdale area and fell in love with Wilton Manors. For the last 10 years, he has been staying at Ed Lugo Resort — he wrote a review on Trip Advisor that his only issue is that he can’t live there.
Ed Lugo remembers his friend as a kind man. Whenever someone was down on their luck, he would hire them for plumbing, electrical work or housekeeping. The day he died, Lugo remembers sitting in his kitchen and talking about what Flaherty wanted to do with his life, since he had just turned 55 weeks before.
“We were there for four hours, five hours in my dining room talking,” Lugo said. “He was so excited about being here in town. He loved it here, in Wilton Manors, and he was talking about ‘I want to go and see my friends at Ramrod.’”
The accident site is a few blocks north of the bar, although friends and family aren’t sure why he was there. Lugo said he got a call the next day that he had left his credit card at Ramrod. Flaherty also apparently did not have his phone or his driver’s license on him, so Jordan wonders how police identified him. Haus, Flaherty’s nephew, has looked at the area on Google Maps to try and make sense of his uncle’s last hours.
“I need answers to my questions to get closure, to put things to rest,” he said. “It’s silly but I want to know everything. The person who hit him is now a part of my life.”
With a large age difference between his mother and his uncle, Haus is only 12 years younger than his uncle, who was more of a big brother figure to him. He joked that he had his first beer with him and that because he loved “Cat Fancy” magazine so much as a kid, Flaherty was sure that he would be gay.
“Glen was sure I was going to be gay because he saw these pictures of cats all over this room,” he laughed. “So he was highly disappointed I was straight.”
A general contractor, Haus partnered with Flaherty on a number of projects and the two were in touch constantly. He even recorded a voicemail message for his uncle, who didn’t like the sound of his voice on the recording. And after being diagnosed with AIDS almost three decades ago and participating in some of the original drug trials, Haus said that his uncle truly treasured every day he had.
“He kind of lived his life like he could die tomorrow,” he said. “People say that, but to him it wasn’t a cliché; he definitely always had it in his mind’s eye, ‘Hey man, I could go at any time and every day is a blessing.’”
And while Flaherty was a practicing Catholic, Haus said he leans more agnostic — growing up, he remembers not wanting to be part of a religion that said his uncle was evil. The family is planning his funeral, a Catholic one, for May 1. They are also organizing a get-together at his favorite gay bar in town, eagleBOLTbar.
“We wish we had him back,” Jordan said. “We wish we had more answers of what went on. But I suppose we’ll find that out as time goes on.”
The Gazette is launching a Wilton Manors focused newsletter. Sign up today! You can also visit Facebook.com/groups/WMGazette to join the Gazette’s community Facebook page.