Four of the five people who were killed when a red SUV sped into a crowd of participants in the annual Christmas parade in Waukesha were members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
Waukesha police identified the fatal victims as Dancing Grannies Virginia ‘Ginny’ Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owens, 71; and Tamara Durand, 52; and 82-year-old Wilhelm Hospel, the husband of one of the grannies.
Citizen Bank employee Jane Kulich, 52, was also identified as one of the fatalities. She was representing Citizens Bank in the parade procession when she was stuck and killed, according to her daughter.
Durand last Facebook post which she made just hours before the deadly events of Sunday night show her smiling and holding her pompoms while dressed in a winter coat and hat.
‘HERE WE GO!’ Durand wrote, adding a few Santa Claus emojis. ‘First Milwaukee Dancing Grannies parade! So excited!’
Durand was a former hospice chaplain and a chaplain at Waukesha Memorial Hospital, according to her LinkedIn page.
Hospel was helping the group at the parade because his wife is one of its members, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Hospel’s brother, Theodore, told the New York Post that he was on a golf course in Florida when he heard that his younger brother was among those struck by the out-of-control SUV driver.
Wilhelm, who was the youngest of five brothers, died after suffering from internal bleeding and injuries to his pelvis, according to Theodore.
‘I was talking to him this summer, and he said, “Who do you think is going to be the first one to go,” you know,’ Theodore said.
‘And lo and behold, the youngest one goes first.’
Theodore told the Post that he would frequently visit his younger brother and his wife, Lola, in Wisconsin. He said Wilhelm was ‘always repairing things’ in a rental property that he owned.
‘His job was never done, but he was so healthy,’ Theodore said.
‘He was not on any major medication. He was a strong person and even would help me out a lot of times because he was so strong. I cannot believe it.
‘It’s so tragic.’
Sorenson was a former registered nurse and mother of three children. She is also survived by six grandchildren.
According to the Journal Sentinel, Sorenson helped with the group’s choreographer and was a mentor to some of the newer members of the Dancing Gannies. She kept up her activities with the group despite nursing a bad back and hip.
‘She liked the instructing,’ her husband David told the newspaper.
‘She liked the dancing and the camaraderie of the women. She liked to perform.’
Sorenson was planning to take part in the parade from inside a van. But at the last minute, she decided she was going to help carry the banner at the rear of the group during the procession, according to her husband.
When she wasn’t dancing with the Grannies, Owen worked as a manager at Packard Glen Apartments for nearly 10 years, according to CNN.
Dave Schmidt, the property owner, told CNN that his staff posted a statement for residents informing them of her death.
‘This was one of her passions that she truly loved,’ the statement said. ‘She was so proud to be part of this group and lit up when she talked about it.’
The Dancing Grannies posted a statement on its Facebook page saying it was ‘devastated’ by the tragedy.
‘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,’ the group wrote.
‘While performing the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds, cheers, and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts.
‘Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed…..joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue….held us together.’
The Grannies wrote: ‘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 whose lives have forever changed in your thoughts and prayers.’
Two children are in critical condition, 18 minors remain in the hospital and 48 are injured in total, but police say the number may rise.
Gabrielle Kamentz, a nursing student and clinical research assistant at Oshkosh College, posted a tribute to her late grandmother Virginia on Monday.
‘She had such a good heart. Such a good soul. She was the glue that held the family together. I’m still in shock and trying to process this as I write. As I continue through nursing school, I will live that legacy to her,’ Gabrielle wrote. ‘My grandmother was an incredible nurse. I’m so proud to be following in her footsteps.’
Jane Kulich’s daughter, Taylor Smith, also took to social media to post a tribute to her mother.
‘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 da**,’ Taylor wrote. ‘She was walking in the parade last night. She was so happy. I love you mom. Rest in peace my beautiful angel.’
Gabrielle Kamentz (left), a nursing student and clinical research assistant at Oshkosh College, posted a tribute to her late grandmother Virginia Sorenson (right), 79, killed in the Waukesha tragedy on Sunday
Virginia Sorenson, 79, was a nurse and member of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, a group of elderly woman marching in the parade
Jane Kulich was a Citizen Bank employee who was walking with a parade float before she was fatally struck
A GoFundMe set up by family to raise funeral costs described Jane ( right) as a ‘loving, beautiful and charismatic mother, grandmother and friend to so many. ‘The world is a much darker place without a woman like this in the world,’ continued the description. Almost $600 have been raised out of the $2,000 goal
Virginia was a nurse and member of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, a group of elderly women marching in the parade, for almost two decades.
She had been married to her husband, Dave, for 56 years and had two adult children and six grandchildren. Virginia worked part-time in medical records.
‘What did she like about it? Everything,’ her husband told the Milwaukee Journal. ‘She liked the instructing. She liked the dancing and the camaraderie of the women. She liked to perform.’
He said Virginia was helping dancers from the parking lot to the start of the route on Sunday.
‘[She] was going to ride in the van behind the woman and be an instructor. They were short help so she offered to hold the banner going down the street. so she did that. I was at the end in the car. I was sitting in the car waiting,’ he added.
‘Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed…..joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue….held us together,’ the group posted on Facebook.
Dave told the outlet that despite her bad hip and knee, Virginia loved to make new members of the grannies feel welcomed.
In a Facebook comment, Virginia encouraged newcomer granny Betty Butula Streng writing ‘Our future Milwaukee Dancing Granny…great picture, she has the moves and the smile.’
Betty, who had just joined the group, was also badly injured. The degree of her injuries is unknown but she’s now in ICU, according to members of the community.
‘Dear friends, please hold in prayer Betty. This parade in Waukesha was the first gig for her as a part of the Dancing Grannies. She is currently in ICU. Please lift her and all others impacted by this tragedy in prayer. Lord, in your mercy…’ Betty’s friend, Kris Ertl posted on Facebook.
It was also the first time Tamara Durand, one of the five fatal victims, performed with the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
‘She was super energetic, she was that type of person who when she walks in the room, everybody notices her smile,’ her husband, Dave, told The Daily Beast on Monday. ‘She literally danced her way through life. She was the youngest one in the Dancing Grannies. Dancing was her favorite thing. It was her first time even with them, which is what’s so tragic, too.’
Tamara was a hospice and critical care chaplain at Waukesha Memorial. In 2009, she saved a homeless man from drowning in the Wisconsin River.
Tamara Durand and Leanna Owen were also with the Dancing Grannies, while Wilhelm Hospel was the husband of one of the members.
Jane Kulich was a Citizen Bank employee who was walking with a parade float before she was fatally struck.
A GoFundMe set up by family to raise funeral costs described her as a ‘loving, beautiful and charismatic mother, grandmother and friend to so many.
‘The world is a much darker place without a woman like this in the world,’ continued the description. Almost $600 have been raised out of the $2,000 goal.
A suspect identified as 39-year-old Darrell Brooks was taken into custody for reportedly plowing his red SUV through crowds at parade. Police said they found his red Ford SUV parked neatly in a driveway five blocks from where he drove through crowds of kids and elderly dancing groups.
‘What did she like about it? Everything,’ Virginia’s husband of 56 years, Dave, said. ‘She liked the instructing. She liked the dancing and the camaraderie of the women. She liked to perform’
Virginia still worked part-time in medical records and despite her bad knee and hip was an active member of the grannies
Dancing Granny Betty Butula Streng, who had just joined the group, was also badly injured.
The degree of Betty’s injuries is unknown but she’s now in ICU, according to members of the community
‘The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are devastated by this terrible tragedy with of loss of life and injuries in the Waukesha Christmas parade,’ the Dancing Grannies wrote on Facebook. This picture was posted after the incident on Sunday
Police said Brooks was fleeing domestic dispute, and the attack was not fueled by terrorism sentiments.
Five victims were transported to Waukesha Memorial and one of them died. Twelve others were treated by first responders at the scene.
More than one of the fatal victims were part of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
‘The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are devastated by this terrible tragedy with of loss of life and injuries in the Waukesha Christmas parade,’ the Dancing Grannies posted on Facebook.
Footage shared online shows some of the dancing grannies just seconds before Brooks plowed through the crowd, as horrified pedestrians try to get out of the way.
The grannies voiced their heartbreak after the tragedy.
The Facebook statement read: ‘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. While performing the grannies enjoyed hearing the crowds cheers and applause which certainly brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts.’
Footage shared online shows some of the dancing grannies just seconds before Brooks plowed through the crowd, as horrified pedestrians try to get out of the way
Darrell Brooks Jr, 39, from Milwaukee, was detained shortly after a red SUV ploughed into the annual Christmas parade in the town of Waukesha, leaving at least five people dead and 40 injured – including at least 12 children on Sunday night. He is shown in a November 3 mugshot, when he was arrested for battery and domestic abuse
The Christmas parade began on Sunday at 4pm, with participants starting at Main St. and Whiterock Ave. It was always intended to be a short parade, ending half a mile away at the northeast corner of Cutler Park. At 4.39pm, the red SUV is filmed speeding down Main Street. It smashed into the crowd, and sent bodies flying, before carrying on down towards the end of the parade, where the car broke through barriers. The SUV was found less than five blocks away and the driver was taken into custody but it’s unclear exactly where
‘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,’ it concluded.
Among the injured are Romelia Perez and her 11-year-old daughter Camila, her husband, Rigoberto, 47, told the New York Post.
He said he had stayed home on Sunday while his wife and daughter went to enjoy the Waukesha parade, hours later he received the call.
‘I don’t understand,’ Perez told the outlet. ‘I was eating with my wife and daughter yesterday. Now they’re sleeping in the hospital. It’s hard.’
Camila has a broken femur and underwent emergency surgery, while his wife reportedly has many broken bones.
According to her father, Camila has not said anything since the horrific attack.
‘[She] hasn’t said nothing yet. She’s only crying, crying, crying,’ he said.
Brooks was taken into custody in Waukesha on Sunday night.
The amateur rapper has a long criminal history dating back to 1999 with more than 15 arrests in the state of Wisconsin alone for charges including possession of drugs, strangulation and suffocation, battery, illegally possessing firearms as a convicted felon and resisting arrest.
On Sunday he was fleeing the scene of a domestic dispute when he crashed into the crowds.
Police had just arrived at the home that he had fled when he plowed into the parade crowds, killing five adults. The victims have been identified as four women and one man, aged 52 to 81.
The Waukesha Police Department have now arrested Brooks on five murder charges.
At a press conference on Monday afternoon, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson said: ‘This is not a terrorist event.’
The incident comes just two days after Kyle Rittenhouse, the accused Kenosha shooter, was acquitted of murder charges in the deaths of two men during the unrest that erupted last year in the wake of a police shooting of a black man. Kenosha is located about 55 miles south of Waukesha. There is no indication yet that the two are connected
The SUV was found around five blocks from where the parade carnage took place, parked in a driveway. It’s unclear whose home it was or if he was found inside, but he was taken into custody nearby
Pictured, the suspect’s home in Milwaukee. A man who came to the door said he could not speak to DailyMail.com. ‘If you’re trying to get some information I can’t talk to you. I know what this is related to but we’re not going to talk to you,’ he said