NewsWaukesha Christmas Parade


'I saw people flying': Eyewitness tells TODAY he threw daughter out of harm's way at deadly Waukesha Christmas parade

'If I had to get hit, I had to get hit,' witness tells TODAY
Christmas Parade SUV
Posted at 7:58 AM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 14:52:29-05

At least five people are dead and more than 40 were hurt when a driver sped into the crowd at the Waukesha Christmas parade Sunday evening.

A person of interest is in custody, police say.

Thomas Kluka Jr. was at the parade. He told TODAY he threw his daughter out of the way to avoid her being struck.

"I'm like 'Oh no.' My daughter stood up, I threw her out of the way, 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 two feet," Kluka told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. "I could've touched the car going by."

"I noticed him coming through the crowd and I noticed something was not right, and then I saw people flying as I stood up,"

"If I had to get hit I had to get hit, I was just making sure they got out of the way," Kluka added. "We're rough, but we'll make it. Without quick thinking, we may not have been here."

Initial reports said 11 of the victims transported to hospitals are adults and 12 are juveniles, officials said in a news conference. Children's Wisconsin later said in an emailed statement that it had received 15 patients at its hospital.

Waukesha police have arrested a person of interest and have recovered their vehicle, calling the scene "safe and secure" as of late Sunday night. Police said they fired at the suspect's vehicle to try to stop it, but nobody was hurt when those shots were fired.

Among the injured are a Catholic priest, as well as several parishioners and Catholic school children, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee said in a statement Sunday night. The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies also said in a post on Facebook that members of its group had been affected.

"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. Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes of being a Grannie. They were the glue....held us together," the group's Facebook post said.

"Our prayers are with the people who have been injured and killed during the tragic incident in Waukesha," the Archdiocese said.

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