Driver In Wilton Manors Pride Crash Apologizes For ‘Horrible Accident’

The alleged driver of the truck that drove into attendees at the Wilton Manors Pride parade.
The alleged driver of the truck that drove into attendees at the Wilton Manors Pride parade.
(screen capture)

The man who was behind the wheel of the truck that accidentally killed one Wilton Manors Pride parade participant over the weekend and injured two others has issued a statement and apology.

From The Daily Beast:

Fred Johnson Jr., who has been named by police as the driver of the vehicle that veered out of control killing one person and injuring two others at Saturday’s Stonewall Pride Parade in Wilton Manors, FL, has offered his “sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event.”

In a statement sent to The Daily Beast, Johnson, 77, who is a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus—as were the deceased, James “Jim” Fahey, 75, and two injured men, Jerry Vroegh, 67, and Gary Keating, 69—wrote, “This was a horrible accident… 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.”

Fort Lauderdale police are still gathering evidence, but have acknowledged the incident seems to have been an accident.

Apparently, due to health issues Johnson was unable to walk in the parade so he was chosen to drive the white pickup truck. As he moved the vehicle into position for the start of the parade, the truck accelerated unexpectedly, striking the victims.

Wilton Manors Pride Incident Unintentional Not A ‘Terrorist Attack’

(screen capture via 7News Miami)

The latest news regarding the incident at the Wilton Manors Pride event on Saturday which left one attendee dead and another hospitalized appears to have been unintentional.

From the AP:

A member of a men’s chorus group unintentionally slammed into fellow chorists at the start of a Pride parade in South Florida, killing one member of the group and seriously injuring another, the group’s director said Sunday, clarifying initial speculation that it was a hate crime directed at the gay community.

The 77-year-old driver was taken into custody, but police said no charges have been filed and the investigation is ongoing.

The elderly driver had ailments that prevented him from walking, according to a statement Sunday from Fort Lauderdale Police, who said he was cooperating with the investigation and there was no evidence drugs or alcohol was involved.

Wilton Manors Vice Mayor Paul Rolli told the AP in a phone interview, “The early investigation now indicates it looks like it was a tragic accident, but nobody’s saying finally what it is.”

Out Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis was present when the incident occurred and told WPLG it had been a deliberate attack.

“This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” Trantalis said. “This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate, it was premeditated, and it was targeted against a specific person. Luckily they missed that person, but unfortunately, they hit two other people.”

Truck Drives Into Wilton Manors Pride Parade Killing One, Injuring More

The alleged driver of the truck that drove into attendees at the Wilton Manors Pride parade.

The alleged driver of the truck that drove into attendees at the Wilton Manors Pride parade.
(screen capture)

Tragedy struck the twilight Stonewall Pride march in Wilton Manors, Florida on Saturday leaving one person dead and two others are injured after a truck drove into attendees just before the beginning of the event.

The pickup truck driver appeared to be part of the march but then suddenly accelerated when he was told he was next in the procession according to WSVN-TV.

Two adults were transported to a local hospital where one later died, according to a police spokesman. The other remains hospitalized with serious injuries but is expected to survive. A third victim is in a stable condition.

The car narrowly missed a vehicle carrying Democratic congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was clearly “deeply shaken” but unharmed.

The event was canceled and and an investigation is underway according to Wilton Mayor Scott Newton in a statement to the press.

Out Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis was in attendance and told WPLG he believed it was a deliberate attack.

“This is a terrorist attack against the LGBT community,” he said. “This is exactly what it is. Hardly an accident. It was deliberate, it was premeditated, and it was targeted against a specific person. Luckily they missed that person, but unfortunately, they hit two other people.”

But later reports indicate the incident may have been an accident. At this point in time there hasn’t been any definitive announcement.

Justin Knight, the President of the Fort Lauderdale’s Gay Men’s Chorus, confirmed in a statement that the driver was “part of the Chorus family.” Knight added, “To my knowledge, this was not an attack on the LGBTQ community.”

Local10 reporter Christian De La Rosa, who witnessed the incident, reports the driver was taken into custody.

“He appeared to be part of the parade,” he noted, “he was wearing a Pride shirt.”

Some theorize the jump to believe the incident was an ‘attack’ is due, in part, to a bill signed into law by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in April which assigns civil immunity to anyone who drives a vehicle into protesters that are blocking a road during a “riot.”

Wilton Manors: Customer Spits In Bartender’s Face After Being Asked To Wear Face Mask

L-R Gary Bouvier, bartender Shane Cullinan

WSVN News reports that Gary Bouvier, owner of the local restaurant Wilton Wings, spit into the face of a bartender at The PUB, located in Wilton Manors, Florida, after being asked to wear a face mask due to the ongoing coronavirus health threat.

Bouvier is reportedly under investigation by Wilton Manors Police Department and faces felony assault charges related to the attack.

It’s worth noting The PUB has a sign posted on the front door requiring customers to wear a face mask.

The Independent reported today the number of coronavirus cases in Florida has hit a new daily record.

Via Shane Cullinan’s Facebook:

Friday night I had a guy actually come behind the bar looking for a restroom. I told him it was on the other side and he needed to put his mask on while walking around. He said, “ You don’t know who I am, and fuck off.”

I followed him to near the bathroom and told him the masks were to protect others and he needed to wear one while walking about. Again, he said, “You don’t know who I am and to fuck your mom.”

He continued to say “you don’t know who I am” and shouted profanity. I walked away although he said I assaulted him in the bathroom. We have video and I never went in the bathroom.

Probably about 7 minutes later he comes in from outside, actually has a mask on, pulls it down and spits in my face. He says, “Fuck off and you messed with the wrong person” I was completely in shock and so was his wife. This man spit in my face and put my life at risk and other patrons who were around the area. Spit stays in the air for a while. We called the Wilton police right away but he ran out to his Lamborghini to get away.

Bouvier issued a statement on the Wilton Manors Gayborhood Facebook page expressing his “sincere regret” for the incident. He wrote, in part, “I consumed too much alcohol and engaged in out-of-character behavior for which I profoundly regret.”

Saying he “deeply” apologizes to Mr. Cullinan, he adds he is “making efforts” to convey his sorrow and hopes that “one moment of poor judgment does not define” who he is.

Some folks on the Gayborhood FB page have alluded to “everyone” having a “moment of weakness” and the apology should be enough.

I have to ask – who reading this has ever SPIT in the face of a bartender or announced: “You don’t know who I am!”

Gay Mayor Of Wilton Manor Dies Of Brain Aneurysm

Justin Flippen, the 41-year-old  openly gay mayor of Wilton Manors, Florida, died suddenly early Tuesday night as he was driving to a meeting of the Wilton Manors City Commission.

Wilton Manors Police Chief Paul O’Connell said Flippen was taken to a nearby hospital due to a serious “medical issue,” and that he was later pronounced dead at the hospital.

Police Chief Paul O’Connell said Wednesday that the Medical Examiner’s Office determined Flippen died of a brain aneurysm.

Flippen was elected mayor in 2018 on a platform of experience, fiscal responsibility, inclusive community values and protecting neighborhoods’ small-town feel. He had filed to run for reelection this November.

Mayor Justin Flippen (center)

With his election, Wilton Manors became only the second city in the U.S. to have an entirely LGBTQ elected city government. Palm Springs was the first.

Flippen was first elected to the Commission in November 2008 and then picked to serve as Vice Mayor. He also served from 2008-2010 and 2014-2018 before being elected mayor in 2018.

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, who Flippen had endorsed for president, tweeted his condolences.

Hillary Clinton Addresses Huge LGBTQ Rally In Wilton Manors

Hillary Clinton spoke at a packed and raucous LGBTQ rally this afternoon at the Manor Complex in Wilton Manors, Florida.

In advance of the event,  the Clinton campaign said, “She will participate in the Community in Unity rally in Broward County, where she will lay out her agenda for an America that is stronger together, that would support the LGBT community in South Florida and across the country.”

From the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel:

Activists have been planning the LGBT community event for most of the last week, but didn’t learn until Saturday afternoon that Clinton would be the headliner. The Clinton campaign said she would discuss her agenda “that would support the LGBT community in South Florida and across the country.” Local organizers designed the event to encourage early voting. The venue, a nightclub called the Manor Complex, 2345 Wilton Drive, is just down the street from a Broward County early voting site.

Flyer for the event: