A Wisconsin parade accident left the Waukesha community mourning their dead and trying to understand what caused this senseless accident. During their annual Christmas parade Sunday evening, a red SUV plowed into the crowd and left five dead and over 40 injured.
The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies said some of their members were among those who died. A Waukesha Catholic school said a priest and community members were affected.
Victims’ identities have not been released, but Waukesha police is continuing to investigate. So far it is unclear how many people were injured because some people drove themselves and their injured loved ones to the hospital.
Police reports say that known victims are spread out over three hospitals, including Aurora Medical Center-Summit in Waukesha County with 13 victims; Children’s Wisconsin in Milwaukee with 18 victims and Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee which chose not to provide specific victim numbers at this time.
Froedtert Hospital is the only Level One trauma hospital in the area and any patients being treated would be critically injured.
Many groups who were in the parade have spoken out about their injured members. The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies posted on their Facebook and said that some of their members were among the five dead.
They said, “Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed…..joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue….held us together. Our hearts are heavy at this most difficult time, as more information and updates become available it will be posted . Please keep them their families, friends, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies and everyone who lives have forever changed in your thoughts and prayers.”
The Dancing Grannies perform in parades all across the state and their members are all 50+. The only requirement for joining the group is that you have to be a grandma.
Other groups to suffer injuries include members of the Waukesha Catholic community, including the Waukesha Catholic School and their local priest, which was confirmed by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on their Facebook page.
Corey Montiho reported that his daughter’s dance group was hit by the SUV. He told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that “there were pom-poms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere,” he said. “I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter. My wife and two daughters were almost hit. Please pray for everybody. Please pray. My family is safe but many are not. I held one little girl’s head in my hand, she was seizing and she was bleeding out of her ears. I held her mother as she collapsed. Please pray.”
Montiho’s statement does not specify which dance group was hit, but some reports are saying that it was the Waukesha Xtreme Dance Team. The organization posted on their Facebook following the accident and thanked the public for reaching out, but asked for their privacy so they could “process the tragic events of this evening.”
Witnesses said that the SUV appeared about 20-30 minutes after the parade had started and drove along the parade route before jumping the police barricades and plowing into the crowd. According to some, the SUV was so close that they could have touched it.
Angela O’Boyle, who was watching the parade from her fifth floor apartment above the route, described the moment when the SUV hit the victims.
She said, “The next thing I heard were screams, and turned my head and saw the car come and plow into the band that was just past my balcony at that point. It hit at least two people right away and rolled over them. And then continued down the road to People’s Park which is at the end of the block — and then kept going, it didn’t stop.”
O’Boyle said that the holiday parade became filled with screams, tears, and parents calling their children’s names.
Since the Wisconsin parade accident, police have questioned Darrell E. Brooks Jr. about his connection to the incident. According to officers, Brooks has a long rap sheet with criminal charges going back to 1999.
The 39-year-old was recently in court for charges including reckless endangerment, battery, domestic abuse, resisting arrest and bail jumping. He was out on bail during the Wisconsin parade accident. YouTube videos by Brooks also show a red SUV that matched the car used during the parade.
No arrests have been made.