Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Today is the LAST DAY of this Mid-Year Campaign. This is our hour of need.
If you value independent journalism, please support Common Dreams.

TODAY is the last day to meet our goal -- Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year.

Wisconsin holiday parade

Debris litters the street at a crime scene on November 21, 2021 in Waukesha, Wisconsin. According to reports, an SUV drove through pedestrians at a holiday parade, killing at least five and injuring more than 40. (Photo by Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

At Least 5 Dead, 40 Injured After SUV Slams Through 'Comfort and Joy' Christmas Parade in Wisconsin

Annual celebration turns into bloody chaos after driver rams into performers and onlookers in the town of Waukesha.

Jon Queally

A Christmas holiday parade themed 'comfort and joy' in the town of Waukesha, Wisconsin turned deadly Sunday evening after a driver plowed into participants and observers, killing at least five people and injuring more than 40.

According to the Greater Milwaukee Today, a local paper:

Multiple people were struck by a red SUV in downtown Waukesha partway through the Waukesha Christmas Parade this evening around 4:40 p.m. 

Before the parade began, the vehicle was seen swerving around parade participants on Whiterock Avenue, including The Freeman van. Police vehicles with sirens and lights activated followed soon after, and then a fire truck. 

The crowd that had gathered to watch the parade began dispersing suddenly and with urgency. People were heard calling for family members in a panicked state—a man was shouting a girl's name from the historic courthouse building's steps.

As of this writing, police have not identified by name a "person of interest" in custody believed to be the driver of the red SUV and officials have said the death and injury count could both rise. Police gave no details about the individual and Waukesha Police Chief Dan Thompson, who briefed reporters, refused to speculate about any possible motives.

"At this time, we can confirm that 5 people are deceased and over 40 are injured," said a statement from the City of Waukesha on Sunday night. "However, these numbers may change as we collect additional information."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the tragic incident "occurred during one of the city's biggest and most cherished annual events. A joyous crowd lined both sides of the road, people bundled against the cold."

Videos circulating on social media offered various angles of the incident as marchers in the parade were overtaken by the speeding vehicle and onlookers reacted with horror as people in the street—including elderly performers and children—were struck.

According to the Associated Press, the parade held annually "on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, is sponsored by the city's Chamber of Commerce. This year's, the 59th, had the theme of 'comfort and joy.'"

Witnesses expressed grief and called for prayers for those killed and injured as well as their families.

"There were pom-poms and shoes and spilled hot chocolate everywhere," Corey Montiho, a School District of Waukesha board member, who saw the events unfold as his daughter's dance troupe performed, told the Sentinel. "I had to go from one crumpled body to the other to find my daughter. My wife and two daughters were almost hit. Please pray for everybody. Please pray. My family is safe but many are not. I held one little girl's head in my hand, she was seizing and she was bleeding out of her ears. I held her mother as she collapsed. Please pray.”

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

TODAY is the last day of our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Texas Supreme Court Allows Century-Old Abortion Ban to Take Effect

"Extremist politicians are on a crusade to force Texans into pregnancy and childbirth against their will, no matter how devastating the consequences."

Jake Johnson ·

'What's There to Even Discuss?' Omar Says Free, Universal School Meals Should Be Permanent

"We have an opportunity to prove that a government of the people, by the people, and for the people can still deliver big things. And we can feed tens of millions of hungry kids while we do it."

Jake Johnson ·

'Stark Betrayal': Biden Administration Floats New Offshore Oil and Gas Drilling

"This is the third time since November the Biden administration has announced new oil and gas leasing plans on the Friday before a holiday," said one climate advocate. "They're ashamed, and they should be."

Jake Johnson ·

As US Rolls Back Reproductive Rights, Sierra Leone Moves to Decriminalize Abortion

"I'm hopeful today's announcement gives activists in the U.S., and especially Black women given the shared history, a restored faith that change is possible and progress can be made."

Brett Wilkins ·

'Indefensible': Outrage as New Reporting Shines Light on Biden Deal With McConnell

The president has reportedly agreed to nominate an anti-abortion Republican to a lifetime judgeship. In exchange, McConnell has vowed to stop blocking two Biden picks for term-limited U.S. attorney posts.

Jake Johnson ·

Common Dreams Logo