Driver who killed friend at Florida pride parade calls it ‘horrible accident’

Fred Johnson Jr, left, has been identified as the driver responsible for running into three people in his Dodge Ram pickup (Picture: Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus/Joey Spears)

The 77-year-old driver who plowed into three fellow members of a Florida gay chorus group at a Pride parade has said it was a ‘horrible accident’.

Fred Johnson Jr was at the wheel of a white Dodge Ram pickup in Fort Lauderdale on Saturday when he ‘accelerated unexpectedly’, killing his friend James Fahy, 75, and injuring two others, according to police.

Johnson, a local minister, was identified as the driver shortly after the incident and, on Monday, released a statement which said the friend who died will stay ‘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’, Johnson said.

The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men?s Chorus released this photo of Fred Johnson Jr., who was driving the pickup truck that ran over two members of his chorus at the start of the Stonewall Pride Parade on Saturday.

Fred Johnson, 77, was driving the pickup truck at the time of the accident at the Stonewall Pride Parade on Saturday (Picture: Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus)

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

‘I love my Chorus family and the community and would never do anything to intentionally harm anyone’, Johnson added in his statement.

He continued: ‘Please know that I hold my fellow Chorus member, Jim Fahy, in my heart forever and offer my condolences to his friends and family.’

Police in Fort Lauderdale have also said that ‘all available information and evidence indicates this was a terrible accident’ following Johnson’s admissions.

When questioned by cops Johnson said he was driving his pick-up at the Pride parade because he has ‘ailments preventing him from walking the duration of the parade’.

Zuma via PA Images June 19, 2021, Wilton Manors, FL, United States: A pickup truck reportedly drove into a crowd of spectators at the start of the Wilton Manors Stonewall Parade and Festival, on Saturday, June 19, 2021, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. (Credit Image: ? TNS via ZUMA Wire)

The incident happened during a Pride parade in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (Picture: Zuma Press)

He has also claimed that his foot got jammed between the gas and brake pedals, police have said, who have added that Johnson has been cooperative and there was no evidence that drugs or alcohol were involved.

‘He’s just really, really beside himself’, said Johnson’s friend and fellow chorus member Bradley Bush.

He added: ‘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’, Bush insisted, as he described Fahy, who worked in the cruise industry, as a sweet and shy man who volunteered in the community.

‘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.’

Shortly after the incident on Saturday evening, Fort Lauderdale mayor Dean Trantalis declared it a ‘terrorist attack against the LGBT community’, only to take back the comments after learning about what the circumstances.

James Fahy, 75, died after being hit by the pickup truck

James Fahy, 75, died after being hit by the pickup truck (Picture: Joey Spears)

Asked on Monday if he has apologized for the remarks, mayor Trantalis replied: ‘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.’

It’s not yet clear if police plan to charge Johnson in connection with the incident and the investigation is ongoing.

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