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11-year-old Waukesha parade victim, Jessalyn Torres, returns home from Children's Hospital after 24 days

Jessalyn Torres
Posted at 10:22 PM, Dec 14, 2021

WAUKESHA, Wis. — Jessalyn Torres, 11, returned home on Tuesday night after 24 days in the hospital.

On Nov. 21, Jessalyn was one of dozens of people injured when a man drove his SUV into the Waukesha Christmas Parade. Six people were killed.

"She's very excited to come home. She's very excited to be around her friends and family," said her uncle, Ryan Kohnke.

Jessalyn spent more than a week on life support before she was strong enough to breathe on her own and taken off a ventilator.

Jessalyn Torres
Jessalyn Torres

"Her care is going to be long-term," said Kohnke. "To my understanding, it is going to be six to eight months before she’s walking on her own regularly."

The 11-year-old suffered a broken pelvis and injuries to her lungs and liver. The impact of the SUV also detached one of her kidneys.

Her family's next step is to find help installing a permanent ramp on the front of their home after a volunteer effort fell through.

Jessalyn Torres
Jessalyn Torres

Just Tuesday, the day Jessalyn arrived home, an area business donated a temporary aluminum, fold able ramp. Kohnke said they're grateful, but they have concerns.

"It works great now, but we all know how the Wisconsin winters are," he said. "It's been mild so far, but it can turn on a dime, and you've got a foot of snow on the ground."

They're worried about ice and snow buildup on the narrow ramp — which has no railings — and Jessalyn toppling over from her wheelchair or while using a walker.

Jessalyn Torres
Jessalyn Torres

The porch also bends under the weight of a single person, and they're worried the boards may even break under the weight of a wheelchair and two or more people helping to move Jessalyn.

On Wednesday, Jessalyn will be heading back to the Children's Hospital for checkups and to meet with First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff.

Jessalyn Torres
Ramp for Jessalyn Torres

"She understands how important they are at her age," said Kohnke. "It will be something for her life to say that she met them."

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