WAUKESHA, Wis. – “You couldn’t help but love him.”
Jackson Sparks, 8, on Tuesday became the sixth fatality after an SUV roared through this suburban Milwaukee town’s Christmas Parade two days earlier. He was a third grader from Mukwanogo, and had marched with the Blazers Wolfpack baseball club.
Jeff Rogers of Waukesha Blazers Baseball/Fastpitch Softball Club said that the Blazers were “heartbroken by Jackson’s death.” Jackson was “a sweet, talented boy… tenderhearted with a contagious laugh.”
Over 30 coaches and kids posed in Blazers sweatshirts before the parade. When the carnage began, Jackson’s brother Tucker, 12, also was struck. Both were hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Children’s Wisconsin.
Jackson is the youngest child to be killed by his injuries. Injured and killed five others, more than 60 other people also died. Six children remained in critical condition at Children’s Wisconsin.
Jackson Sparks (aged 8), becomes the 1st child to dieInjuries in the Waukesha Holiday Parade
Jackson Sparks: Who were you?
Jackson attended Clarendon Avenue Elementary School in Mukwonago, according to their mother’s Facebook posts. Jackson was in the third grade and Tucker is in sixth grade. Rogers explained that Jackson was a utility baseball player, and was loved by everyone. He was an absolute joy to coach.
Rogers stated, “We are devastated at the senseless act which turned a joyous event into a terrible tragedy.”
Jackson had his brain surgery performed on Sunday according to his GoFundMe account. Jackson and his brother were also treated for a road accident and a fractured skull.
Waukesha accident kills six children;Police believe suspect wanted to “hurt as many people”
Darrell Brooks Jr. is facing charges
Darrell Brooks Jr. (39), was accused of five counts first-degree intentional murder. Authorities said a sixth homicide charge would be filed because of Jackson’s death. Police say Brooks was fleeing a domestic disturbance where a knife was reported when he drove an SUV into the parade route.
The criminal complaint says Brooks plowed into pedestrians despite multiple opportunities to exit the route, according to eyewitnesses.
If convicted, the mandatory sentence of life imprisonment is for a first-degree charge of intentional homicide. Brooks, who has a lengthy record of convictions, was ordered held Tuesday on $5 million bail.
Victims A tragic Waukesha Christmas Parade
Brooks’s previous bail sparked controversy
Brooks was free on $1,000 bail posted Friday for another pending case that included an allegation he deliberately hit a woman with his car in early November after a fight. The $1,000 bail, which was recommended by prosecutors, was called “inappropriately low,” according to a statement this week from the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office. Former President Donald Trump also criticized the bail amount, calling it “very low”. He said Brooks shouldn’t have been released in those days prior to the Waukesha slaughter.
Lower bails are favored by a nationwide reform movement that claims bail, designed to ensure people return to court to face charges, has morphed into widespread, wealth-based incarceration.
Dancing Grannies members among the dead
According to police, the victims of the attack were Virginia Sorenson, aged 79, LeAnna Owen at 71, Tamara Durand at 52, Jane Kulich at 52, and Wilhelm Hospel at 81. Durand, Owen, Sorenson and Owen were part of Dancing Grannies, with Hospel helping out.
Sorenson had a bad back and a bad hip but loved to dance – and helped newcomers and veterans with the group’s routines, said her husband of 56 years, David Sorenson.
“She enjoyed the instruction. She loved the company of women and dancing. He said that she liked performing.”
Owen, a member of Dancing Grannies, was a passionate manager for a 32-unit apartment building. Dave Schmidt, her owner, said that she had a lot of compassion for tenants.
“She didn’t have a mean bone in her body. She was the nicest lady,” Schmidt said.
Bacon reported in Arlington, Virginia. Contributing: Bill Glauber, Sarah Volpenhein, Talis Shelbourne, Ashley Luthern, Cady Stanton, Joel Shannon, Bruce Vielmetti, USA TODAY NETWORK