11-Year-Old Christmas Parade Attack Victim Fights for Her Life on Ventilator

Jessalyn Torres spent her Thanksgiving on a ventilator at Children’s Wisconsin Hospital. It was the same the day after, and again on Saturday.

But the 11-year-old Waukesha XTreme Dance Team member — one of four children who are still in serious condition after they were struck by a speeding SUV during the Waukesha Christmas Parade last Sunday — gave her mom, Amber Kohnke, something encouraging. “She was responding to my words,” Kohnke said.

“No she is not off the vent but she gave me the positive i needed for the day in knowing that she is truly a fighter,” Kohnke wrote in a Facebook post late Friday night. “Yes today was a very rough day but on a positive note i was able to see my baby respond to me finally.”

Jessalyn has lost a kidney and has a broken pelvis, skull fracture, and lacerations on her lungs and remaining kidney. Her days start at 3 a.m., Kohnke writes, with breathing treatments in which doctors test to see if she’s able to breathe at all on her own. Then the medical teams remove mucus — “torture to her and myself just watching,” Kohnke says.

On Friday, lab tests found E. coli in Jessalyn’s urine, and she ended up being allergic to the antibiotic. More breathing tests, coughing up mucus.

But later, Kohnke wrote, Jessalyn did more than respond to pain or the inability to breathe: She began to respond to what her mother and a nurse said to her.

During one of the mucus sessions, Jessalyn “bit down onto her breathing tube and wouldn’t open her mouth to put the bite block in.” The respiratory nurse joked that she wasn’t the one upsetting the little girl, that it was the other nurses, but Jessalyn shook her head no and pointed directly at the nurse — three times.

“We all laughed and i simply told jessa…if you open your mouth I promise the lady will leave you alone,” Kohnke wrote. “And she did. She opened her mouth.”

Kohnke wrote that the whole ordeal isn’t fair to anyone — not “her, me, my other chidlren, family members, or any one else who was hurt in the parade.” She praised the hospital staff and offered prayers for the families and other dance team members.

“i got to actually SEE my child today,” she wrote at the end of her post. “Not in the best of circumstances but she was there and was still being her very forward, feisty self. So much love for her and all my children. Have a good night.”

Five other children, in addition to the four in serious condition, are being treated at Wisconsin Children’s. Three are listed in fair condition and two in good condition, the New York Post reported.

Darrell Brooks, the man suspected of driving into the joyful parade and turning it into tragedy, has been charged with five counts of first-degree intentional homicide with a sixth expected to be added soon, following the death of 8-year-old Jackson Sparks, the youngest of the victims. He’s being held on a $5 million bond.

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[Featured image: Amber Kohnke and Jessalyn Torres/GoFundMe]