Jessalyn Torres, 11, was dancing with her fellow members of the Waukesha Xtreme Dance Team in the city’s Christmas parade in Wisconsin on Sunday when a suspect driving an SUV plowed into the young girls and other parade participants.
“She was directly impacted by the vehicle,” Ryan Kohnke, Jessalyn’s uncle and a Waukesha resident who attended the parade, told Fox News Digital on Tuesday. “It looks like she might have heard the commotion behind her and turned and it hit her.”
She is one of several members of the dance team who remained a hospital’s intensive care unit late Tuesday following the tragedy.
Jessalyn suffered multiple serious injuries, including a fractured pelvis, fractured skull, detached kidney, contusions to her lungs, and lacerations on her liver, but that didn’t stop her from making her loved ones laugh the day after the incident.
“She told them, ‘Just glue me back together,’” Kohnke said. “It’s kind of a testament to her sassiness, her attitude, her spunk. She is a very adventurous child. For her to crack a joke and have that type of human moment was big. My sister and I both kind of chuckled. We thought that was funny.”
“She told them, ‘Just glue me back together.’ It’s kind of a testament to her sassiness, her attitude, her spunk.”
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Jessalyn was intubated Tuesday as doctors waited for her vital signs to stabilize.
“She’s still not stable enough to really work on quite yet, but her vitals and everything have been as steady as they’ve been since she’s been there on Sunday,” Kohnke said.
Six people were killed and at least 62 others were injured when 39-year-old Darrell Brooks allegedly plowed his SUV through the Christmas parade.
Five of the deceased victims were identified as Wilhelm Hospel, 81; Virginia Sorenson, 79; LeAnna Owen, 71; Tamara Durand, 52; and Jane Kulich, 52.
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A sixth victim, a child, died Tuesday, Waukesha County District Attorney Susan L. Opper said at Brooks’ first court appearance.
“We’ve got older people that have passed and we’ve got a bunch of kids in the ICU. There’s not a more vulnerable group of people that this person could have attacked.”
Four of the adults who died were associated with the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, a group that describes itself on Facebook as a “group of grannies that meet once a week to practice routines for summer and winter parades.”
“We’ve got older people that have passed and we’ve got a bunch of kids in the ICU,” Kohnke said Tuesday. “There’s not a more vulnerable group of people that this person could have attacked.”
As the physical wounds start to heal, the Waukesha community is also reeling from the mental anguish that the attack inflicted.
“We are only beginning to understand the mental trauma,” the Waukesha Xtreme Dance Team said in a statement. “We need time to heal and understand.”
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The community of Waukesha, a city of about 70,000 just outside Milwaukee, has banded together in the wake of the tragedy.
As of late Tuesday, nearly 1,000 people had donated more than $37,000 to an online crowdfunding effort to Torres and her family.
“We’re resilient. This is a tight-knit community,” Kohnke said. “I think, yes this trauma will impact us, but we as a community will come together and come back from this.”