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Driver who killed man at Pride parade sorry for ‘horrible accident’

Driver who killed man at Pride parade sorry for 'horrible accident'

The 77-year-old driver who accidentally mowed down three fellow members of a Florida gay chorus group at a Pride parade has said he will hold the friend who died “in my heart forever.”

“This was a horrible accident and I offer my sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event,” Fred Johnson Jr. said in a statement Monday after being identified as the driver in Saturday’s deadly mayhem in Fort Lauderdale.

Johnson, a local minister, had been behind the wheel of a white Dodge Ram pickup when he “accelerated unexpectedly,” killing James Fahy, 75, police said Monday.

Both men were members of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus, as were two others also injured — Jerry Vroegh, 57, who was discharged from a hospital Monday, and Gary Keating, 52, who was treated at the scene for minor injuries, police said.

“I love my Chorus family and the community and would never do anything to intentionally harm anyone,” Johnson Jr. said.

Police officers and others assisting two people laying on the ground after being hit by a pickup truck during a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, near Fort Lauderdale, Florida on June 19, 2021.
Police officers and others assisting two people lying on the ground after being hit by a pickup truck during a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, on June 19, 2021.
@pinto_spears/AFP/Getty Images
Police patrol the area after a truck mowed into a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida.
Police patrol the area after a truck mowed into a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida.
Jason Koerner/Getty Images

“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 said in his statement.

Fort Lauderdale police reaffirmed Monday that “all available information and evidence indicates this was a terrible accident.”

Johnson had been driving the pickup because he has “ailments preventing him from walking the duration of the parade,” and he told cops later that his foot got jammed between the gas and brake pedals.

Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus member James Fahy was killed in the accident on June 19, 2021.
Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus member James Fahy was killed in the accident on June 19, 2021.
Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus

He has been cooperative and there was no evidence that drugs or alcohol were involved, police said.

“He’s just really, really beside himself,” Johnson Jr.’s friend and fellow chorus member Bradley Bush told the Associated Press.

“It’s going to be a burden that he’s going to carry the rest of his life.

“He’s an absolutely amazing person. He wouldn’t hurt a fly,” he insisted.

The truck that plowed into the crowd is seen in a video still.
The truck that plowed into the crowd is seen in a video still.
WPLG

Bush described Fahy, who worked in the cruise industry, as a sweet and shy man who volunteered in the community and was incredibly dedicated to the chorus.

“We are a family,” said Bush. “You get close to them quickly because you’re on stage with them, you’re sharing weekly or more rehearsals.”

Johnson Jr.’s truck had also narrowly missed US Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), who was seen crying at the scene.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., was nearly hit during the accident.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz was nearly hit during the accident.
Chris Day/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

Adding to the confusion, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis initially declared it a “terrorist attack against the LGBT community” — walking back those comments after police declared it an accident.

Asked Monday if he apologized for the remarks, he snapped, “The apology needs to come from the person who perpetrated this act, OK? You know, it’s not about Dean Trantalis. It’s about what really happened and we need to focus on that.”

With Post wires

About the author

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James Partridge

James has worked in various news organizations and now aims to make Stock Market Pioneer one of the best and fastest growing news websites in the U.S. He contributes to the US and World sections.

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