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What we know about the victims of the Waukesha Christmas Parade incident

Toppled chairs are seen among holiday decorations in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after an SUV plowed into a Christmas parade injuring dozens of people Sunday.
Jeffrey Phelps
/
Toppled chairs are seen among holiday decorations in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after an SUV plowed into a Christmas parade injuring dozens of people Sunday.

Updated November 23, 2021 at 6:26 PM ET

Six people were killed and at least 62 others were injured after the driver of an SUV plowed into a crowd of people at the annual Waukesha Christmas Parade in Wisconsin on Sunday.

Within an hour into the parade, suspect Darrell E. Brooks Jr., 39, "intentionally drove his maroon SUV through barricades into a crowd of people," Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson told reporters during a news conference on Monday.

Five adults, ranging in age from 52 to 81 years old, were killed in the crash. Thompson identified them as:

  • Tamara Durand, 52
  • Wilhelm Hospel, 81
  • Jane Kulich, 52
  • LeAnna Owen, 71
  • Virginia Sorenson, 79
  • Authorities later said that a child injured in the attack had also died, but they did not provide additional details.

    "Our prayers go out to all the victims of this tragedy," city officials said in a statement.

    The Waukesha Police Department also noted that trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 via the national Disaster Distress Helpline at 800-985-5990.

    Brooks is being charged with five counts of homicide, with other charges possibly being added as the investigation continues.

    According to Thompson, officials with Children's Wisconsin hospital in Milwaukee said Monday that 18 injured children were being treated there — including two in critical condition.

    The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, a local dance troupe for grandmothers, wrote in a post on Facebook that some of their dancers were among those who were killed in the incident.

    "The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are [devastated] by this terrible tragedy with ... loss of life and injuries in the Waukesha Christmas parade," the group wrote in its statement. "Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed [the] joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue [that] held us together."

    The Dancing Grannies started as a jazz/exercise group nearly 40 years ago, and expanded to become a beloved dancing group that performed across Wisconsin. Of the six people who died in Sunday's attack, four were involved with the group.

    As the nation is mourning following the tragedy, details are beginning to emerge about some of the victims. NPR will update this page as more information about the victims becomes available.

    Tamara Durand, 52, of Waukesha

    Tamara Durand, a former teacher, was excited for her first performance as one of the Dancing Grannies, her husband David Durand said in an interview in The New York Times.

    David Durand says he did not attend the parade but found out about the tragedy immediately after it happened. He described the scene once he arrived as "chaos," he told the newspaper.

    The next time he says he saw his wife was at the morgue, as he went to go identify her body.

    When Tamara Durand wasn't dancing, her husband says she cared for her grandson four days a week and volunteered for local hospitals and the Red Cross, the Times reports.

    Jane Kulich, 52, of Waukesha

    Kulich worked as a bank teller at Citizens Bank. In a statement to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the bank said she was "one of our team members who was walking with the parade float was struck and passed away as a result of her injuries."

    "Our condolences go out to her family and friends for this inconceivable loss," the bank said.

    Kulich's daughter, Taylor Smith, wrote in a Facebook post, "There's no words. It's so unreal. My mom was killed last night. We are told she didn't suffer. Thank God. I'm so grateful I got to have her this long, but damn. She was walking in the parade last night. She was so happy. I love you mom. Rest in peace my beautiful angel."

    Wilhelm Hospel, 81 of Waukesha

    Hospel was considered to be a familiar face for the dancing troupe, as he served in a volunteer role; his wife, Lola, was one of the dancers, the Journal Sentinel reports.

    Hospel helped out in any way needed — making sure the Dancing Grannies had what they needed.

    Jim Ray, who identified himself on Facebook as a co-worker of Lola, said in a post on Monday that he was "absolutely heartbroken."

    "Sometimes life just isn't fair and this is one of those times," Ray wrote.

    LeAnna Owen, 71, of Cudahy

    Owen was not only a member of the Dancing Grannies, but also managed an apartment complex, the Journal Sentinel reported.

    "She didn't have a mean bone in her body. She was the nicest lady," Dave Schmidt, who owns the two 32-unit buildings that Owen managed told the paper.

    Virginia Sorenson, 79

    Virginia Sorenson, known as 'Ginny,' was considered the heart and soul of the Dancing Grannies, and served as its choreographer for nearly two decades.

    Earlier this summer in a report on local television station WDJT, Sorenson said she had to stop dancing herself due to some surgery she had undergone, so being an instructor was extra meaningful to her.

    "I love it. And I love the ladies, they are my family. They are my friends," she said.

    Her husband of 56 years, David Sorenson, told the Journal Sentinel that his wife loved everything when it came to the Dancing Grannies.

    "She liked the instructing. She liked the dancing and the camaraderie of the women. She liked to perform," he said.

    Ginny Sorenson was holding a banner near the back of the dancing group when she was killed.

    The city of Waukesha held a prayer vigil Monday night for the victims of Sunday's parade tragedy.

    This is a developing story. Some facts reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene, and we will update as the situation develops.

    Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.