The annual Waukesha Christmas Parade was supposed to be a joyous occasion, bringing the community together after a difficult year dealing with Covid and isolation.
However, the festival quickly turned tragic when a red SUV rammed into a crowd on Sunday night, killing five people and injuring over 40 others.
Witnesses to the chaos recall the horror of the SUV crashing down Main Street, hitting people and a float, and how attendees rushed to help the injured.
Thomas Kluka, of Waukesha, said he attends the parade every year with his family, but this year he felt something was “not right.” When he saw the SUV approaching, he said he threw his daughter out of the way.
“My daughter stood up, I pushed her out of the way, and then I yelled, ‘Get out of the way!'” And my wife moved out of the way, and by the time she did, the car had passed me by by at least 2 feet. “I could have touched the passing car,” he admitted on Monday morning.
“If I was going to get hit, I was going to get hit,” he explained.
He stated that it appeared as if the driver intended to hit the crowd.
“That was his intent…. He made an effort to approach us because he wanted to avoid the float “Kluka stated. “I’m not sure if it was to hit as many people as possible. I’m not sure what the pointless intention was, other than to go as fast as he could.”
Another Waukesha resident, Scott Greger, said his family was looking forward to the annual holiday parade this year, especially after it was canceled last year due to the pandemic and a year of “gloominess and isolation.”
“This red SUV comes barreling down the parade route,” he told reporters. “It hit a pedestrian who was standing on the side of the road, then it hit the back of a float and kept going.””
He stated that the vehicle did not stop or slow down and was traveling at “at least 45 to 50 mph.”
He praised his community for its prompt response to the injured.
“Given the state of the chaos, I believe people reacted fairly calmly.” People rushed to the person who had been hit across from us to help in any way they could “He stated. “Obviously, everyone was taken aback.” Greger stated that his 6-year-old son is doing well “OK,” he said, adding that he doesn’t believe “he fully processed what happened in front of him.” ” His cousin’s children, who are a few years older, are “very shaken up, ” he says “Greger stated.
“At this point, they don’t want to go to another parade,” he said.
“The number of children who were present and watching, as well as the children who were injured, will undoubtedly have a significant impact on our community. My wife is a teacher in this school district, so this will have a significant impact on our students and everyone moving forward,” he continued. According to Jaymz Touchstone, he was watching his daughter’s band perform when the vehicle “swerved around the big truck right behind the band and then accelerated through the band and down the street.”
“I tried to chase after the car. I couldn’t do it. “I turned around and returned, and I began to provide first aid to the people there,” Touchstone explained. “The kid I was giving first aid to… his feet were crushed.” They trampled on both of his legs. He collided with his legs and became trapped beneath the tire.”
Waukesha’s 58th annual Christmas Parade was billed as the event in suburban Milwaukee. According to Sandra Peterson, a spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, among the injured are members of the “Milwaukee Dancing Grannies,” a group of grandmothers, as well as at least one Catholic priest, multiple parishioners, and Waukesha Catholic school children.
At a news conference Sunday evening, Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson confirmed that a person of interest had been apprehended.