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Driver plows through crowd at Wisc. parade

By HENG WEILI in New York | | Updated: 2021-11-22 09:58
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Police investigate after a vehicle plowed through the Christmas Parade, leaving multiple people injured in Waukesha, Wisconsin, US, November 21, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

A driver in an SUV plowed through a Christmas parade in Waukesha, Wisconsin, on Sunday, causing an undetermined number of fatalities and injuring dozens, at least 12 of whom are children.

The number of fatalities was not released as authorities attempted to notify families, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Eleven adults and 12 children were taken to hospitals, the paper reported.

"A red SUV drove into our Christmas parade that we were holding downtown. More than 20 individuals were injured as a result of this incident," Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson told reporters.

He said a suspect is in custody, and the vehicle has been recovered.

"Tonight was a traumatic situation for the city of Waukesha," Mayor Shawn Reilly said at a news conference, calling the incident a "horrible and senseless act".

Corey Montiho, a board member in the local school district was outside a restaurant when he heard that his daughter's youth dance team was struck by the vehicle.

"There were pom-poms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere," he told the Journal Sentinel. "I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter. My wife and two daughters were almost hit.

"Please pray for everybody. Please pray. My family is safe, but many are not," he said. "I held one little girl's head in my hand, she was seizing, and she was bleeding out of her ears. I held her mother as she collapsed."

A video posted online showed a red sport utility vehicle plowing through the parade at an estimated speed of 40 mph (64.4 km), appearing to run over more than a dozen people. The incident occurred around 4:40 pm local time.

In a second video, police appeared to open fire on the same vehicle as it crashed through street barriers.

A woman told Fox6 TV station that the dance team struck included girls between 9 and 15 years old. She said the immediate reaction was silence, followed by screaming, running and checking on those injured, the station reported.

One witness said the driver hit the "Dancing Grannies" and at least one person flipped over the hood of the SUV, according to WISN-TV, an ABC affiliate.

Photos and videos of Waukesha — a city of 72,000, 20 miles west of Milwaukee — circulating on Twitter showed police cars and ambulances crowding a street illuminated with Christmas lights. Bundled-up people huddled on sidewalks as dusk set in.

"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 are struck by the vehicle," Angelito Tenorio, an alderman in nearby West Allis, told the Journal Sentinel.

Police officers ran down the street, telling parade watchers to shelter in stores, the newspaper said.

Reuters contributed to this story.

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