Florida Mayor Regrets Calling Fatal Pride Parade Crash a 'Terrorist Attack'

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis is walking back on his remarks to this weekend's deadly crash at the Stonewall Pride Parade in nearby Wilton Manors, saying he regrets calling the crash a "terrorist attack."

"I regret the fact that I said it was a terrorist attack because we found that it was not, but I don't regret my feelings," the mayor said at a Sunday vigil held for the victims in the crash. "I don't regret that I felt terrorized by someone who plowed through the crowd."

On Saturday night, a 2011 white Dodge Ram that was stopped in the staging area while awaiting the start of the parade unexpectedly accelerated forward and struck two pedestrians.

The victims were rushed to Broward Health Medical Center with serious injuries. One victim was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Following the accident, Trantalis, who is Fort Lauderdale's first openly gay mayor, said, "It's terrible. They're laying on the ground. This is clearly a terrorist act against the LGBT community. This is disgusting, this is why we are fearful of our lives."

However, police said their investigation found that the tragedy was likely a horrible accident that was caused by the driver's health ailments.

Trantalis walked back on his comments the next day, saying he had believed it had been a random attack on the LGBTQ community during pride month and that he had been worried for the safety of Florida Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was nearly hit by the vehicle.

"It terrorized me and all around me...I feared it could be intentional based on what I saw from mere feet away," Trantalis wrote in a Twitter statement Sunday. "As the facts continue to be pieced together, a picture is emerging of an accident in which a truck careened out of control."

Dean Trantalis Fort Lauderdale Pride Parade Crash
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean J. Trantalis on stage at the "Love is Love" Wedding at W Fort Lauderdale on February 5, 2015 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Trantalis says he regrets his initial remarks on a deadly crash that happened at a pride parade over the weekend. Rodrigo Varela/Stringer

On Monday, Trantalis told local news station WPLG that the driver should be the one making an apology, not him.

"Let's focus on what really happened, and what happened was that someone was killed," Trantalis said. "So the apology goes to him and his family and his friends and the people that knew him. That's where the apology needs to come from."

He continued, "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."

The 77-year-old driver of the vehicle in the crash, who is a member of the Fort Lauderdale Gay Men's Chorus, was selected to drive the lead vehicle because he was unable to walk in the parade, police said.

"From what I understand is he had a problem with his leg and that's why he didn't walk in the parade. So he was riding in the truck, or driving the truck, his (foot) fell off the brake, got stuck behind the brake and was lodged into the accelerator," Wilton Manors Mayor Scott Newton said.

The elderly driver remained at the scene after the accident and has been cooperating with investigators. The two victims were also members of the chorus.