WILTON MANORS, Fla. – The Fort Lauderdale Gay Men’s Chorus is a family, a brotherhood that is now in mourning after a tragic crash took the life of one of its members at the start of Saturday night’s Stonewall Pride Parade.
Jim Fahy, 75, was killed and Jerry Vroegh, 67, was injured when their fellow chorus member Fred Johnson Jr., 77, crashed into them with a pickup truck as they were set to march in the Wilton Manors parade.
Police and Johnson have called it an accident. His foot reportedly slipped and got stuck under the brake, pushing down to accelerate.
On Tuesday, Local 10 News spoke with Chuck Gregory, a friend of Johnson’s who says he is “devastated.”
“It just keeps going through his mind. He keeps seeing it like a movie,” Gregory said.
Johnson is also a supply priest at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hollywood. Gregory says the chorus was a big part of his life.
“He’s known these people for many, many years and they’re all very good friends,” Gregory said. “Both in and outside the ministry, he loves to help people.”
Johnson hasn’t spoken publicly but released a statement Monday, saying:
“This was a horrible accident and I offer my sincere regrets to all those who were impacted by this tragic event. 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.”
Vroegh was released from Broward Health Medical Center on Monday.
The chorus’ founding director Gary Keating, 69, was also treated for minor injuries Saturday after being nicked by the 2011 white Dodge Ram that Johnson was driving.
The Broward County School Board held a moment of silence for Fahy at its meeting Tuesday morning, and local leaders will be taking part in a meeting at Wilton Manors City Hall on Tuesday night for the first time since the crash.
The chorus and community members are in the process of planning a celebration of life event.