Wausheka tragedy victims: 'Dancing girl' Jessalyn Torres, 11, begs docs to ‘glue her back’

Jessalyn Torres is in hospital with a broken pelvis, lacerations on her lungs and kidney, as well as internal bleeding


                            Wausheka tragedy victims: 'Dancing girl' Jessalyn Torres, 11, begs docs to ‘glue her back’
Jessalyn Torres (L) was one of the victims plowed down by an SUV being driven by Darrell Brooks (R) (GoFundMe, Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office)

WAUKESHA, WISCONSIN: An 11-year-old girl asked doctors to "glue her back together" after she was plowed down by an SUV while performing in the Waukesha Christmas parade.

Jessalyn Torres was with her mom Amber Kohnke and her two-year-old sister, Averie, when she took part in the festive event with the Waukesha Xtreme Dance group and was hit by the vehicle. She is now fighting for her life in hospital with a broken pelvis, a lost kidney, lacerations on her lungs and remaining kidney, as well as internal bleeding after the suspect, 39-year-old Darrell Brooks drove his car through the crowd of civilians on Sunday, November 21, killing five and injuring more than 40 people.

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"Her mom and dad are with her now at the hospital, they will not be leaving her side," Ryan Kohnke, Jessalyn's uncle, told The Sun. "The rest of us are going to make sure the other kids are taken care of throughout this." He said Jessalyn's mother has four children, aged from 16 to 2. "We're getting a lot of support from the community, people reaching out wanting to donate meals," Kohnke added. "We're organizing things."

Jessalyn seems to have faint memories of what transpired at the parade. "Even when I spoke to her this morning on the phone, she said to me, 'Tell them to just glue me back together.'" her uncle recalled, laughing. "They decided to do the intubation after that to make her more stable. I think she's confused, she doesn't really understand what happened. A lot of these kids are confused, they don't know how to feel. They're all going through this in their own way, and most of them saw it." 

People hold candles during a vigil in Cutler Park on November 22, 2021, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

Kohnke said he was also present at the event with his own two kids and had even filmed the children before the SUV plowed through the crowd. "After I watched the guy barrel through, police trying to stop him, I knew my family was down there," he recounted, adding his sister Amber wasn't picking up the phone but another family member frantically called and urged him to get downtown as soon as possible. "I grabbed my two children and we ran down there, I'm a veteran myself and it was like a war zone. There were bodies all over, people were just trying to help as much as they could. I just wanted to get the younger kids out of there so that's what I did," he said.

Kohnke said that doctors were preparing to operate on Jessalyn, who was in stable condition at the time of publication. He described the situation as "very hectic" as he was watching out for Jessalyn's siblings. "My focus is for the other kids to talk to somebody and get help, some counseling," he said, noting how there were several other people in the ICU also from the parade.

Police Chief Dan Thompson speaks at a press conference at the Waukesha City Hall on November 22, 2021, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

Jessalyn was described by her uncle as a "wonderful child" who loved dancing. "Jessalyn loves to dance, she loves her team and her friends," he said. "She's a stubborn, energetic, wonderful child, caring and adventurous. She's very into beauty and looking pretty for her contests, and has a huge personality! She's very individual." Kohnke also commented on the arrest of suspect Brooks. "I'm happy he has been arrested, we were getting text messages saying someone was on the loose and to lockdown during that time," he said. "I keep hearing the same question, 'Why?' but at this point, it doesn't matter because he did it. I just don't want this to be spun into some political mess. I would rather the focus be on Jessalyn and the children from the dance team who are also in hospital," he added.

Amber's cousin Nathan Brooks, 23, has established a GoFundMe campaign for her. He said he was "balling" when he heard that Amber's young daughter was hospitalized. "I had to leave work, you never think something like this is going to happen to your family," he said, as quoted The Sun. "She is incubated now because she needs to rest, we are all praying for her recovery. We were told Jessalyn was thrown into the air and sustained a lot of injuries. Her mom is just a mess, she's a single mom of five, but Jessalyn's dad is also with her at the hospital."

Debris litters the street at a crime scene on November 21, 2021, in Waukesha, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jim Vondruska/Getty Images)

Nathan described 39-year-old Brooks as a "monster." He continued, "We don’t want to make this about race, or politics, but he is a monster, we don’t know what could have possibly driven him to this. I heard he was out on a $1,000 bond for running over his girlfriend, it just seems crazy and such a small amount, the rules need to change. People have been left traumatized by what they saw at the parade, you don't expect something like this to happen in a place like Waukesha." Nathan added, "All of the families need help at the moment, they have lost so much, and we just hope Jessalyn and others in hospital fully recover."

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Funds raised from GoFundMe will cover medical bills and other expenses related to Jessalyn's recovery.

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