PICTURED: The grandparents killed in Christmas parade tragedy

·3-min read

WARNING - CONFRONTING DETAILS: Three of the five victims killed in the horrific attack on a Wisconsin Christmas parade were members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies group, including one who was making her debut performance in Sunday's event.

LeeAnna Owen, 71, Virginia Sorensen, 79, and Tamara Durand, 52, were performing in the annual parade when an SUV allegedly driven by 39-year-old Darrell Brooks broke through barricades and sped into the performers.

Tamara Durand (LEFT), 52, and Leana Owen (RIGHT), 71, were two members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies who died in Sunday's Christmas parade tragedy. Source: Facebook
Tamara Durand (left) and LeeAnna Owen (right) were performing as part of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies when they were struck by a red SUV. Source: Facebook

The dance group released a statement on Facebook expressing their shock and grief over the tragedy.

“The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are devastated by this terrible tragedy with of loss of life and injuries in the Waukesha Christmas parade,” the post began.

“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.”

It continued to describe the three victims as being “extremely passionate” members who were the “glue” that held the dance group together.

“Our hearts are heavy at this most difficult time.”

(LEFT) A photo of Virginia Sorenson, 79, who was a member of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies.
(RIGHT) A photo Wilhelm Hospel,82, the husband of one of the grannies. 
Both were killed in the Christmas parade tragedy. Source: Facebook
Virginia Sorenson (left) has been decribed as the "heart" of Milwaukee Dancing Grannies. Wilhelm Hospel (right) was also killed while watching his wife perform in the group. Source: Facebook

Ms Sorenson, known to friends as Ginny, was the choreographer and is being remembered as the “beating heart” of the dance group, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.

It’s understood it was Ms Durand’s first performance with the group.

Police confirmed Wilhelm Hospel, 81, a husband of one of the Grannies, also died after being struck by the vehicle.

The final fatality has been identified as Jane Kulich, 52, who was representing her employer Citizens Bank in the parade.

Her daughter Taylor told CNN she was an “amazing mum and grandma”.

“Everyone loved her,” she said.

Authorities have warned the number of victims may change with 48 others injured, including six children who remain in hospital in a critical condition.

A photo of Jane Kulich, 52, who was representing her employer, Citizens Bank, in the parade when she was struck and killed. Source: CNN
Jane Kulich was representing her employer, Citizens Bank, in the parade when she was struck and killed by the SUV. Source: CNN

Photo taken moments before terrifying attack

A survivor has shared an eerie photo she took just seconds before the tragedy unfolded.

Katie Vercauteren Pantzlaff was watching the Dancing Grannies when the car ploughed through the parade right in front of them.

The image depicting the moments before shows people in the crowd, including young children, watching as members of the Dancing Grannies group pass by.

She wrote that her friend saw a man next to them get hit, and acted quickly to pull a child out of the way.

“Prayers for Waukesha!” she wrote.

(LEFT) A Facebook post screenshot which shows an image taken by a witness just moments before the Christmas parade attack unfolded. Source: Facebook (RIGHT) A photo of the SUV which struck the crowd. Source: CNN
A woman who survived the deadly attack as shared an image she took just moments before the SUV ploughed through the crowd. Source: Facebook/CNN

Police: Motive remains a mystery

The man accused of deliberately driving his car into the parade was arrested near the scene and faces five counts of first-degree homicide.

It’s been revealed Brooks, 39, was out on bail from a domestic abuse case and was suspected in another violent altercation earlier that day.

(LEFT) A photo of Darrell Brooks, 39, who is the suspected driver of the SUV which rammed parade-goers in Wisconsin. Source: AP (RIGHT) Passersby attend to injured people after a car plowed through a crowd at a holiday parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, U.S. Source: Reuters
Darrell Brooks, 39, is the suspected driver of the SUV which rammed parade-goers in Wisconsin. Source: AP/Reuters

Police said it was clear the attack was intentional however the motive remains a mystery.

"He drove right through the barricades and the officers," Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson told a media briefing.

"Minutes after the incident occurred, I responded to the scene," Thompson said.

"And what I saw out of chaos and tragedy was heroes - first responders in the community coming together and working together on triaging victims."

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