By SCOTT BAUER and TAMMY WEBBER
MADISON, Wis. (AP) —
Friends and families of the roughly 50 people, including many children, hit by an SUV that sped through a Christmas parade in a suburban Milwaukee downtown say they suffered life-threatening injuries, with some clinging to life.
A young girl who is a member of a dance troupe struck by the SUV, a moment captured on cellphone video, woke up Monday and told doctors, “just glue me back together,” according to her GoFundMe fundraising page organized by a family friend.
“No child or parent should have to endure this amount pain and suffering,” the girl’s mother, Amber Konhke, posted Tuesday afternoon.
The fundraising pleas detail the extent of some of the injuries from the incident that has left five dead so far and 48 hurt. The suspect, Darrell Brooks Jr., was scheduled to make his first appearance in court on Tuesday.
Konhke’s daughter Jessalyn is shown smiling directly at the camera on one GoFundMe page, wearing a white Santa hat and holding matching pompoms. She is standing alongside other girls on the Waukesha Xtreme Dance team in a picture taken moments before she was struck.
Jessalyn is “fighting for her life,” according to the fundraising account established by family friend Oscar Luna. She lost a kidney, broke her pelvis and has damage to her liver and lungs, Luna said.
“This holiday season will be a brutal one for them,” he said of their family.
In an update posted Tuesday morning, Luna wrote that she had woken up briefly Monday.
“She is not fully aware of the severity of her injuries but managed to say, ‘just glue me back together,’” he wrote. “Only a child could reference themselves as a little doll in this situation.”
Julia, who was also marching with her dance team and whose last name also isn’t given, “is in the fight for her life,” suffering from brain trauma after being hit, her fundraising page established by family friend Jen McCarthy says.
“Everyone that knows this little girl knows what joy she brings to the world,” the post says. “She has a heart of gold, a smile that can light up the room and is loved by so many.”
Brothers Tucker and Jackson Sparks were among three sets of siblings hospitalized after being struck by the SUV, and they remain at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, according to an online fundraiser organized by a cousin.
Tucker, 12, has head injuries but is recovering, and Jackson, 8, suffered a more serious brain injury and “needs a miracle,” according to Alyssa Albro, the niece of the boys’ parents, Aaron and Sheri Sparks.
“The entire family is devastated,” Albro wrote. She said the boys’ parents are at their bedsides.
Aidan Laughrin, a senior at Waukesha South High School, was hit while performing with the marching band, suffering fractured ribs, according to an online fundraiser.
The family is “tough but the road ahead is going to be tough too, both physically and emotionally,” the organizer posted.
Another band member, saxophonist Tyler Pudleiner, also was struck and has undergone two surgeries since Sunday. “He has a long road to recovery,” wrote Joane Chmiel, one of two people raising money to help Pudleiner.
Tamara Rosentreter was doing what she loved, entertaining the crowd as part of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, when she was struck by the SUV that took the lives of three of her fellow dancers.
The mother of four and grandmother of one was the leader of the troupe, according to an online fundraiser seeking help for Rosenstreter’s recovery. The organizer posted a message from Rosenstreter, who said “I’m still here. Lots of pain, stitches, broken bones and lots of bumps and bruises. Love you ALL.”
She described how a woman prayed for her at the scene “to help give me peace and comfort” and how another kept her warm with a blanket.
“This tragedy is so hard to wrap my head around,” she said, saying her “heart aches” for the victims and their families, those who witnessed the devastation and “for my teammates and their families who are my family.”
Lucero Isabel Perales says several family members were a part of the parade and were struck by the SUV. That includes a cousin with skull fractures who is in a coma, an uncle who underwent six hours of surgery for a broken leg and another cousin with bruises all over her body.
“This is a very hard time for all of us, it was something so unexpected,” Isabel Perales wrote.
More than $776,000 had been raised by Tuesday afternoon for the 18 verified GoFundMe pages for parade victims. Another community fund for victims had raised more than $600,000 by Tuesday morning, said Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly.
“There’s so much outpouring of support,” Reilly said. “It warms your heart to know that people are saying, ‘We support your community, we feel for you.’”
Associated Press writer Carrie Antlfinger contributed to this report from Milwaukee. Webber reported from Fenton, Michigan.
Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.