A beloved dancing troupe in Wisconsin known as the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies was devastated after three of its members were killed after being struck by a speeding SUV at Waukesha, Wisconsin's annual Christmas parade.
Every year, locals gather in the town of Waukesha to watch marching bands, cheerleaders, and various performing groups in santa hats parade down Main Street to kick off the holiday festivities.
But tragedy befell Sunday's holiday event when an SUV plowed through the parade route, killing at least five people and injuring 48 others.
Among the victims were three members of the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, who authorities later identified as 79-year-old Virginia Sorenson, 71-year-old Lee Owens and 52-year-old Tamara Durand.
A fourth victim, Wilhelm Hospel, 81, was not a member of the troupe but helped out with their shows as a driver.
The fifth victim was Jane Kulich, 52, who was not associated with the group.
According to local news, Kulich was an employee at a local branch of Citizens Bank.
Following the tragedy, the bank issued a statement, saying an unnamed employee "was walking with our parade float" when she was struck and killed.
Sorenson was the group's longtime choreographer.
"Owens led the charge in the front and Durand was the newest member," according to CBS58.
Sorenson's husband of 60 years, David Sorenson, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about how much his wife enjoyed working with the Grannies.
"What did she like about it? Everything. She liked the instructing. She liked the dancing and the camaraderie of the women. She liked to perform."
The group grew out of an exercise class in 1984, and many of its members—mostly ranging in ages from their mid-50s to mid-70s—have cycled through the group over the years.
To become a qualifying member, there is one requirement.
You have to be a grandmother.
On Monday, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies released the following statement on Facebook:
"The Milwaukee Dancing Grannies are devastated by this terrible tragedy with of loss of life and injuries in the Waukesha Christmas parade."
"Our group was doing what they loved, performing in front of crowds in a parade putting smiles on faces of all ages, filling them with joy and happiness."
The group continued describing how much joy participating in the parade brought to members, as the experience "brought smiles to their faces and warmed their hearts."
"Those who died were extremely passionate Grannies. Their eyes gleamed.....joy of being a Grannie. They were the glue....held us together."
"Our hearts are heavy at this most difficult time, as more information and updates become available it will be posted."
"Please keep them their families, friends, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies and everyone who lives have forever changed in your thoughts and prayers."
The SUV involved was located and a person of interest is reported to be in custody.
Police said the male suspect was acting alone when he allegedly fled from a domestic dispute. He was not being pursued by the police at the time of the crash and he appeared to not know any of the participants or event attendees when he barreled through the parade route.
Officials say the number of victims could change.