With families notified, the Fort Lauderdale Police Department released the names of those involved in Saturday evening’s crash at the Stonewall Pride Parade in Wilton Manors.
James Fahy, 75, was killed when he was hit by a truck at the start of the parade. Jerry Vroegh, 67, was injured and has since been discharged from Broward Health Medical Center. A third man, Gary Keating, 69, sustained minor injuries and was treated on site.
The driver of the white Dodge Ram is Fred Johnson, Jr. All four men are members of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Fort Lauderdale and were participating in the parade.
“This was a horrible accident and I offer my sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event,” Johnson, 77, said in a statement through the chorus. “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.”
Justin Knight, the president of the chorus, issued his own statement to announce Fahy’s death.
“He was a longtime, valued member of our Chorus family and he will be deeply missed,” he 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.”
FLPD noted that the incident is still being investigated, but “all available information and evidence indicates this was a terrible accident.”
Previously, representatives said that Johnson had “ailments” that prevented him from walking the duration of the parade and so he was instead selected to drive the lead vehicle for the group.
“As the vehicle began to move forward in anticipation for the start of the parade, the vehicle accelerated unexpectedly, striking two pedestrians,” a statement from the FLPD read.
The truck continued, crashing through the chain-link fence of a plant nursery. Police immediately apprehended Johnson, who cooperated. FLPD took the lead on the investigation and the FBI was called in to assist, as it was not clear initially whether the incident was an accident or intentional.
During a community prayer vigil Sunday night, Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton told a crowd of more than 100 that, “This was an accident. A pure accident.”
“We have to pray for the one that died and that’s in the hospital, but we have to pray for the gentleman that [drove the truck] — I don’t know if I could live with something like that if it happened to me,” he said. “So please pray for all of them. It’s unbelievable.”
Gary Keating (right), founder of the Fort Lauderdale gay men’s chorus, with friend Cindy Brown, a few hours before the deadly crash that claimed the life of one person at the start of The parade at Stonewall Street The Festival on Saturday, June 19. Keating was one of the pedestrians injured in the incident. Credit: Steve Rothaus.
Fred Johnson, Jr. Photo via Facebook.
James Fahy (middle wearing Chorus shirt). Credit: JR Davis.
For those who would like to speak to someone to process the events of the weekend, Sunshine Cathedral and SunServe are available for help. If any witnesses of the incident would like to speak to investigators, please contact Traffic Homicide Investigator Paul Williams at 954-828-5755.