NewsWaukesha Christmas Parade


'There were a lot of people crying': Waukesha residents struggle to process horror at Christmas parade tragedy

APTOPIX Christmas Parade SUV
Posted at 4:02 PM, Nov 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-22 18:20:45-05

Melissa Hillmer owns Otto's Fine Art Academy in downtown Waukesha, a studio that caters to kids. It's where she was watching the parade, and when she saw a red SUV speed past the window, she knew something was terribly wrong.

"We didn't see a lot of stuff but we saw the car kind of barreling through the streets and then a lot of people," she recalled. "Kind of just random chaos, and some of the aftermath was really scary and sad."

Jesus Olascoaga had planned to go to the parade but at the last minute, he and his family decided to stay home.

"God, who knows?" he wondered out loud. "We come every year, we come every year to the parade, but this year we decided not to come and my kids actually all complained about that, staying home, but thank God, who knows what could have happened."

Not long after the parade started, Olascoaga's wife got a phone call from a family friend. The friend was sobbing and said her three children and her husband had been injured.

Waukesha police chief reads names of those killed in Christmas parade tragedy

"She was at the hospital crying and yelling, saying someone had hit her kids with their car," he recalled. "She was screaming really, really bad. We went to the hospital right away to see what was going on. It was crazy in the hospital; there were a lot of people crying."

Hillmer said she is unsure if any of her art students were hurt. "

I mean, I hope and pray not, but I mean, it's a parade full of students and kids and community members, so, who knows, it's really sad."

Just like the art academy, many downtown businesses are closed. Hillmer said that when the shops re-open she hopes people do not hesitate to return to downtown and believes seeing the community shopping and celebrating the holidays together could be very healing.

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