Waukesha Christmas parade: First pictures released of the victims named by police

Five confirmed dead and many of the injured remain in hospital

Helen Elfer
Tuesday 23 November 2021 08:12
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Waukesha: Police on scene after vehicle plows into Christmas parade

The five people who were killed in the brutal attack on a Wisconsin Christmas parade have been named by police.

During a press conference on Monday, officials confirmed that Virginia Sorenson, 79, LeAnna Owen, 71, Tamara Durand, 52, Jane Kulich, 52 and Wilhelm Hospel, 81, had died in the incident that took place on Sunday evening.

President Joe Biden addressed the parade tragedy in remarks from the White House on Monday afternoon.

“While we don’t have all the facts and details yet, we know this morning that five families in Waukesha are facing fresh grief of a life without a loved one,” he said.

Three of the victims, Ms Owen, Ms Sorenson and Ms Durand were members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies. The group released a statement on Facebook expressing their grief at the loss.

The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies have been performing together since 1984

“The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are devastated by this terrible tragedy with of loss of life and injuries in the Waukesha Christmas parade. Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade, putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness.”

It continued: “While performing the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowd’s cheers and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts. Our hearts are heavy at this most difficult time.”

Ms Sorenson, known to friends as Ginny, was described as the “beating heart” of the dance group, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported.

Her husband of 56 years David Sorenson told the Journal-Sentinel his wife, who had a bad back and dodgy hip, had initially been due to ride the route in a van. But as the grannies were short of numbers for the parade, Ms Sorenson had offered to hold a banner and march with them

Mr Sorenson had been waiting for her at the end of the parade route when the car barrelled into the troupe.

He said his wife, who is survived by three children and six grandchildren, had enjoyed “everything” about her nearly two decades with the dance group, adding: “She liked the instructing. She liked the dancing and the camaraderie of the women. She liked to perform.”

Virginia ‘Ginny’ Sorenson, 79, was the ‘beating heart’ of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies

Driver Darrell Brooks, 39, allegedly rammed his vehicle into a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Sunday evening, killing those five people and injuring 48 others.

Witnesses described “horrifying” scenes as a red SUV drove at high speed into the parade, where band members and cheerleaders were marching closely together.

Bystanders reported the “calm” driver was “going from side to side, targeting people”.

Multiple people were struck and injured, including 18 children, ranging in age from three to 16 years old. Six of the child victims required surgery and 10 remained in the intensive care unit as of midday Monday.

Police Chief Daniel Thompson said at the press conference that the parade attack had not been an incident of terrorism, and Mr Brooks was acting alone.

Mr Thompson said Mr Brooks had been involved in a “domestic dispute” prior to the crash but said he was not being pursued by police at the time.

A police officer fired his gun to try to stop the suspect and Mr Brooks was apprehended, uninjured, shortly afterwards.

He is now facing five counts of first-degree intentional homicide.

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