The community of Waukesha, Wisconsin experienced a horrible tragedy over the weekend. On Sunday night, an SUV drove into a holiday parade in the downtown area, plowing into dozens of people including seniors and young children.
Police say the driver is in custody, but they have yet to find a motive. So far, five people have died and over forty were injured in the attack. A nurse was attending the festivities that evening. Here’s what she had to say:
A Holiday Gathering Gone Wrong
During a recent press conference, Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson told reporters that it’s not clear if the incident was a terrorist attack. He added that the number of fatalities and those injured could change in the coming days. However, he confirmed there is no further danger.
Videos show the SUV crashing through crowd barriers on the night of the parade. An officer fired shots at the vehicle to stop the driver from hitting anyone else. The vehicle eventually stopped, and police don’t believe any shots came from inside the SUV. The identity of the driver has not been released to the public.
While there’s still a lot we don’t know about the incident, dozens of eyewitnesses describe what it was like to be at the parade.
Scrubs Mag talked to Nurse Jodi Singsime, 42, who attended the festivities with her family. She recalls finding shelter in a nearby store before running out to help the victims.
“I heard and saw the people being hit, but what you could do more than seeing is hearing, and just that sound was insane,” she said. She told reporters that the SUV “just came barreling right in front of us, right where we were standing, and then he kept going, so we saw and heard everything.”
She also remembers running into a small boy in the road. “I felt his neck for a pulse, and he had one but his eyes were barely open and his face – all I can remember is his sweet little innocent face was purple. He wasn’t really with us. There was another nurse there with me and we were talking about doing what you call rescue breathing.”
Rescue breathing is a type of first aid that’s given to people who have stopped breathing.
“At that moment we heard somebody say the medics are here. I got up and again somebody came running past us and said, ‘active shooter,'” she said. “I think we heard it three different times so everybody cleared the streets and ran back into the shops and hunkered down in the shops again.”
Singsime’s son, Jaden, described the aftermath of the incident as “pure chaos”. “The parade was really just a parade full of kids. And for somebody to drive through it and hit all those kids is like that just takes pure evil,” Jaden said.
It “was really just kids in the street lying down and families and parents running around trying to find their lost children and running in and out of the shops yelling their kids’ names,” he said. “It was just pure confusion. It was really scary and it was very sad.”
Belen Santamaria said she was planning on marching in the parade with her husband and daughter, but her back pain kept her on the sidelines, so they watched from the sidewalk instead.
“The SUV came by at full speed,” Santamaria said. “Then I started to hear people screaming. I was going to be there, walking. The SUV would have hit us too.”
Officials said a group of girls ages 9 to 15 were among those struck by the vehicle. The driver also hit a group of “Dancing Grannies”, a group of senior citizens.
“Please keep the Grannies, all those injured, and all those who witnessed this horrible event in your thoughts and prayers,” the Milwaukee-based group wrote on their Facebook page.
“As we were walking back in between the buildings … we saw an SUV cross over, just put the pedal to the metal and just zooming full speed along the parade route. And then we heard a loud bang, and just deafening cries and screams from people who were struck by the vehicle,” Angelito Tenorio, a local alderman, told reporters.
Local resident Thomas Kluka said he attends the parade every year, but he sensed something wasn’t right. “My daughter stood up, I threw her out of the way, and then I basically yelled, ‘Get out of the way!’ And my wife got out of the way and by the time she did, the car came right past me, within at least 2 feet. I could’ve touched the car going by,” he said.
Officials estimate that the SUV was traveling at around 40 mph when it hit the parade.
The Children’s Wisconsin hospital said it had received 15 patients as of 8 PM Sunday night, with no reported fatalities at that time.