A woman smiled widely and was dressed in a coat, ready to take part in the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies parade on November 21, 2021.
Tamara Durand wrote that she was “so excited” for her parade debut with the group, she said in a Facebook post.
Durand was one of six people that Sunday evening after a red SUV plowed into Waukesha’s Christmas parade. More than 60 people were injured, 18 of them children.
The city of Waukesha confirmed the names of the five victims as Virginia Sorenson, 79; Leanna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; Jane Kulich, 52; and Wilhelm Hospel, 81.
The sixth victim was identified as Jackson Sparks, 8, according to his family’s GoFundMe page. “This afternoon, our beloved Jackson has sadly passed away from his injuries,” an update posted on the page said after the attack.
At least 16 children were admitted to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. Two were released that Monday, the hospital said in a statement, and three were released that Wednesday.
Prosecutors have formally charged Darrell Brooks with six counts of first-degree intentional homicide.
Brooks was found guilty Wednesday of first-degree intentional homicide for using a dangerous weapon while driving his SUV in the Waukesha Christmas parade last November.
He faces a mandatory life sentence for the convictions.
Brooks was also convicted of recklessly endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon, six counts of hit-and-run murder, two counts of bail jumping and one count of felony domestic battery.
The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies shared an update two days after the parade, posting photos of three members who died.
“Our hearts are heavy for the loss of our grandmothers and volunteers. Our injured grandmothers are in stable condition and one was released from the hospital on Monday,” the group wrote on Facebook.
The team posted photos of Sorenson, Owen and Durand.
“Those who died were very passionate grandmothers,” according to the group’s Nov. 22 statement.
Sorenson was nicknamed Ginny.
The family set up a GoFundMe page and shared how Sorenson spent her final moments celebrating the beauty of life and her true passion for the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
“All who knew Ginny know she had a special soul that radiated love,” read a statement on the page. “She was a constant caregiver, caring for the sick, caring for her family and most of all her beloved furry friends.”
Her granddaughter, Gabrielle Kamentz, remembered her grandmother for everything she taught her.
“My grandmother taught me everything I needed to know in life…so happy and proud to follow in her footsteps as a nurse,” Kamentz said in a Facebook post.
Another member was Leanna (Lee) Owen, a grandmother of two and three.
“He was kind, loving and just lit up every room he was in,” his son, Chris Owen, told CNN. He was at the parade watching his mother and daughter participate.
“We saw a car speeding around the corner, but we didn’t know what was going on,” said Chris Owen. “The longer we didn’t hear from him, the more we thought he’d been hit.”
Owen said his mother had been a part of Dancing Grannies for 12 years and loved every minute of it, saying she never missed a practice.
Lee was the manager of Packard Glen Apartments in suburban Milwaukee for nearly 10 years, owner Dave Schmidt told CNN. “He loved that job, he dealt with people all day, but he was good at it.” Owen said: “The tenants loved it; the management loved it.”
Staff at the complex released a statement to residents informing them of his death. “This was one of his passions that he truly loved,” the statement said. “He was so proud to be a part of this team and lit up when he talked about it.”
Durand, 52, was a newer member of the dance team. Best Version Media has shared a statement regarding the death of Tamara Durand, wife of Executive Chairman and Founder Dave Durand.
“We are devastated by the tragedy that occurred in Waukesha Sunday afternoon,” the statement read. “It is with heavy hearts and great sadness that we inform you of the passing of Tammy Durand, wife of our Executive Chairman Dave Durand. Tammy was a part of our family who will be greatly missed by everyone at BVM.”
The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies did not say how many members of the group were harmed or injured in the incident.
The group said its members were “devastated (sic) by this horrific trade (sic) with the deaths and injuries at the Waukesha Christmas parade.”
“Our team was doing what they loved, putting smiles on faces of all ages in a parade in front of a crowd, filling them with joy and happiness.”
Jane Kulich, 52, of Milwaukee was representing her employer, Citizens Bank, at the parade when she was struck and killed, according to her daughter Taylor Smith.
Smith told CNN that some of Kulich’s organs will be donated. “That’s my mother. Still giving, even when there’s nothing left to give. I’m very proud of him,” Smith told CNN.
“My mother was always helping people. I am honored to be the daughter of someone who has brought so much to everyone’s lives. Even in this darkness, it still shines a little light on us.”
Kulich is survived by her husband, three children and three grandchildren.
“He loved his family so much,” Smith said in the statement. “He was dedicated, motivated and reassuring. My mother was such a wonderful human being, she had a positive impact on everyone she met.”
Kulich joined Citizens Bank a year earlier, his employer said in a statement on Facebook. “During that time, she shared her bright spirit with everyone around her,” the statement read.
The family started a GoFundMe page to help pay for Kulich’s funeral expenses.
A family member said on the GoFundMe page that Jackson and his brother Tucker, 12, were hit during the parade.
Tucker, who suffered a fractured skull, was “making a miraculous recovery from his injuries,” according to the publication, and will be discharged home.
However, Jackson died on November 23, 2021, following brain surgery two days earlier, he said.
Ryan Kohnke attended the parade with his two daughters to watch his 11-year-old niece Jessalyn Torres dance. But Kohnke compared what he saw to combat service in Iraq, calling it “a war zone.”
Jessalyn, known to her family as Jessa, was one of dozens who were hit. She was participating in the parade with the Waukesha Xtreme Dance Team, and her uncle said she loved being a part of it.
Kohnke recalled the moment he saw the SUV drive through the crowd and told CNN, “At first it didn’t sink in for a lot of people, then all of a sudden it became real, and people started to scatter.”
He said people were everywhere, many screaming and trying to help.
When she found her sister, Jessa’s mother, in the crowd on the ground next to the girl, she came to her aid.
Kohnke rushed to get her children, along with her other nieces and nephews, out of the chaotic scene and to safety. They rushed blocks to her mother’s house to drop her off and Jessalyn went to find out which hospital they had taken her to.
Jessalyn was admitted to the intensive care unit with multiple internal injuries, he said.
A family friend set up a GoFundMe page to help the family with medical expenses.
“Sunday was a traumatic nightmare for the children, their families and our entire community,” the Waukesha Xtreme Dance Team said in a statement on November 23, 2021. “Our dancers have many serious physical injuries, five of them are dancers. Today in ICU”.
According to the group’s GoFundMe page, the injured dancers were part of the group’s mini or elite group.