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Wisconsin Christmas parade: This father threw his daughter out of harm’s way

A Wisconsin parade watcher threw his daughter out of harm’s way when a red SUV came barreling into the parade

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Toppled chairs in downtown Waukesha, Wisconsin.

Toppled chairs are seen among holiday decorations in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after an SUV plowed into a Christmas parade injuring dozens of people Sunday, Nov 21. 2021.

Associated Press

Thomas Kluka Jr. knew something was off when he saw the red SUV.

Kluka had been standing with his wife, their 14-year-old daughter and one of his daughter’s friends at the parade, watching a joyous celebration of Christmas and holiday magic on the streets of Waukesha, Wisconsin — an event that would soon turn deadly.

But Kluka said something felt off about the red SUV, which came through the crowd.

“I noticed something was not right, and then I seen kind of like just people flying as I stood up,” Kluka told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on the “Today” show Monday.

His daughter stood up, seeing the red car barreling toward them.

Kluka decided to act in order to save his family.

“I threw her out of the way, then I basically yelled, ‘Get out of the way,’ and my wife got out of the way, and by the time she did, the car came right past me within at least 2 feet. I could’ve touched the car going by,” he told the “Today” show.

Five people were killed and more than 40 were injured, The Washington Post reports.

The Associated Press reported there was “a person was in custody, as was the SUV.” But law enforcement officials did not suggest any motive yet.

“Tonight was a traumatic situation for the city of Waukesha,” the city’s mayor, Shawn Reilly, told reporters, per The Washington Post. “We don’t have all the details, we can’t provide details at this point.”

Witnesses described horrifying scenes. Angelito Tenorio, who is running for Wisconsin state treasurer, described a terrifying scenario unfolding at the parade in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

“As we were walking back in between the buildings we saw an SUV crossover, just put the pedal to the metal and just zooming full speed along the parade route. And then we heard a loud bang, and just deafening cries and screams from people who are struck by the vehicle,” Tenorio said. “And then, and then we saw people running away or stopping crying, and there, there are people on the ground who looked like they’d been hit by the vehicle.”

Kluka said he was grateful to save his daughter, as so many other families did not have the opportunity to do so.

“I wanted to get her out of the way,” he said. “That was my main concern was just to get her out of the way, just to make sure she was OK, her and her friend. If I had to get hit, I had to get hit, I was just making sure they got out of the way.”