The leader of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus has spoken of their shock and grief after one of their members killed another in a horrific crash at a Florida Pride.
James “Jim” Fahy, 75, was killed and two others were injured when a pickup truck driven by a fellow chorister suddenly accelerated and rammed into spectators at Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida on 19 June.
Speaking to Local 10 News on Tuesday (29 June), chorus director and founder Dr Gary Keating recalled the horrifying moment when tragedy struck.
“The truck took off, it knocked me down, I saw it go across the street and then when I recovered from that, that’s when I got up and went and saw what had happened with the truck,” he said.
“I saw people on the ground, that’s what I remember. Jim was without question one of the most positive, energetic, alive people I’ve known in my lifetime, and I’ve known some pretty amazing people.”
The truck, part of the procession, was driven by 77-year-old Fred Johnson, a longtime member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus who was unable to walk in the march because of unspecified “ailments”.
Police say Johnson’s foot slipped and got stuck under the brake, pushing down to accelerate and fatally striking Fahy.
Local 10 News spoke with Chuck Gregory, a friend of Johnson’s, who says he is “devastated” by the tragic accident. “It just keeps going through his mind. He keeps seeing it like a movie,” he said.
Johnson hasn’t spoken publicly since the incident but has offered a statement of apology.
“This was a horrible accident and I offer my sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event,” he said.
“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.”
The choir are said to be united in their grief, but relying on one another to get them through their darkest hour. They plan to hold a celebration of life for Fahy on Wednesday (30 June), to remember his dedication to service and his volunteer work.