SWFL woman rushes to hometown after Wisconsin parade crash attack

Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:

A woman, who lives in Southwest Florida, rushed to her hometown after a car barreled into a parade. 

Lori Lester’s employees at her shop in Waukesha, Wisconsin, sprang into action mere seconds after the attack. Lester says she never thought she’d get a devastating call like that from her store’s manager.

“She said, ‘I have a lot of people in the store. We’re on lockdown.’ And there was someone that had a big gash in their leg, and she had was able to wrap it,” said Lester.

Her store manager described the destruction and chaos of Main Street in Waukesha after a man drove his car through the parade while evading police. “She started crying. She said that ‘Lori, the children aren’t moving,'” Lester said.

Lester owns Divino Gelato and immediately got on a flight back to Wisconsin to support her community. “And I said ‘give them whatever they want.’ You know, try to comfort them as much as possible,” she said.

She says, at one point, her store became a shelter for almost 50 parade attendees.

“It’s amazing to me. How many people were drawn to the people that were not able to move? Or were injured? So that’s just a sign of what we are in Waukesha, as a community,” said Lester.

The close-knit community that was supposed to be enjoying a day filled with memories is now leaning on one another. “It was very traumatic, so we took a walk. You know we tried to stay out of that area, stay away. We went back to Divino, and we found a few items that was left there, and there was a prayer vigil,” Lester said.

Now, their strength and resilience are the focuses of community members in Waukesha, Wisconsin. “A mom came up with a little Waukesha strong heart, and I’m hoping that that gets passed around. We have a lot of support groups. There’s a hotline for those that are really not able to process this,” she said.

Darrell Brooks Jr., 39, was charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide, a charge that carries a mandatory life sentence if convicted. He rocked back and forth in his seat and cried throughout his court hearing on Tuesday, his attorney’s arm on his back, as the charges against him were detailed. His bail was set at $5 million, and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Jan. 14.

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