What We Know About the Waukesha Parade Tragedy



By Jonathon Sadowski

November 22, 2021

Six were killed and 62 were injured. At least 18 victims were children.

Six people were killed and 62 were injured Sunday when a driver plowed through the Waukesha Christmas Parade, city officials have confirmed.

Here’s what we know as of Monday afternoon:

At about 4:40 p.m. Sunday, a red SUV broke through police barricades and barreled through the annual parade’s route, hitting dozens of people who were walking in the parade, including school marching groups and the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.

Police Chief Dan Thompson on Monday identified the deceased victims as: Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81. The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, a group of grandmothers who perform at events, said on Facebook that some of those killed were affiliated with the group, but did not specify which victims or how many were part of the troupe.

On Tuesday, a sixth person—8-year-old Jackson Sparks—died, according to an update posted to the family’s online fundraiser set up for Jackson and his older brother.

Police have identified 39-year-old Darrell Brooks as the alleged driver. They said Brooks drove through the parade route while fleeing from a domestic violence incident. Police are referring five counts of first-degree intentional homicide against Brooks; if convicted of any of the counts, he would face life in prison.

Brooks was out of jail on bail after being charged with another domestic violence incident earlier this month; the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office said the bail—$1,000—was “inappropriately low” and that it is launching an internal review.

What We Know About the Waukesha Parade Tragedy
An SUV barreled through the 2021 Waukesha Christmas Parade, killing at least five and wounding more than 40. (Screenshot via City of Waukesha/Facebook)

Addressing throngs of media present for a Monday afternoon press conference, Mayor Shawn Reilly said city personnel and the greater Waukesha community were still working to heal their collective trauma, but added the city would not be defined by the horrific events of Sunday night. 

“Last night, we experienced a senseless tragedy. Many of us were participants in the parade and witnessed these horrific actions. We are all trying to process what we experienced. Our police, firefighters, partners, and so many others, sprang into action immediately last night to help the people that were injured,” Reilly said. “For those of you who do not live in Waukesha, you need to know that Waukesha is a community that helps its neighbors. … The healing needs to begin now.”

Fire Chief Steve Howard said city first responders transported 11 adults and 12 children to area hospitals; other victims were taken by private or self-transport. Children’s Wisconsin said Monday it was treating 18 child victims.

In a Monday morning press conference, officials with Children’s Wisconsin said 10 of the victims were in the intensive care unit. Six of them were in critical condition, three were in serious condition, and one was in fair condition. The eight other children not in the ICU were in fair condition. Two children had been discharged, according to Dr. Michael Meyer, medical director for the pediatric ICU.

The child victims ranged in age from 3-16, according to Dr. Amy Drendel, medical director for Children’s Wisconsin’s emergency department and trauma center. Injuries ranged from facial abrasions to broken bones and serious head injuries, Drendel said.

For those who wish to offer help to the victims, the City of Waukesha is promoting a fund set up by the United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County and the Waukesha County Community Fund. Donations can be made here.

The Waukesha School District canceled classes on Monday and is providing counseling services for students. 

Also on Monday, Gov. Tony Evers ordered flags to be flown at half-staff to honor the victims.

President Joe Biden addressed the tragedy in a speech Monday. “An entire community is struggling—struggling to cope with a horrific act of violence,” Biden said. “Last night, the people of Waukesha were gathered to celebrated the start of a season of hope and togetherness and thanksgiving. This morning, Jill and I and the entire Biden family—and I’m sure all of us—pray that that same spirit’s going to embrace and lift up all the victims of this tragedy.”

UPDATE: This story has been updated with names of the deceased victims, additional information about Darrell Brooks, and comment from President Joe Biden.




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