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Rapid all-formats AP response after SUV plows into holiday parade

Neil Stolsmark looks out the window of his business in downtown Waukesha, Wis., Monday, Nov. 22, 2021, a day after an SUV plowed into a Christmas parade, killing several and injuring dozens of other people. A video taken by one of his friends shows a vehicle fatally hitting an elderly person. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)

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A team of Associated Press journalists quickly swung into action when an SUV plowed into a holiday parade just as many in Wakesha, Wisconsin, were sitting down to Sunday dinner. AP delivered vivid all-formats coverage, broke news and followed up with detail-rich enterprise that included a reconstruction of the vehicle’s deadly path.

AP’s swiftly updated mainbar balanced the evolving information on casualties with heart-wrenching detail gleaned from livestreamed video,the cellphones of spectators and telephone interviews with marchers and witnesses. Madison-based supervisory correspondent Scott Bauer anchored the first night’s coverage,with video journalist Mike Householder speeding to the scene from nearby Kenosha, where he had been on assignment for the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. One senior manager noted in the midst of the coverage: “… impressive to watch you all mobilize so fast.”

Early the next morning, lead Justice Department reporter Michael Balsamo tapped his sources to break the news that that police were looking into whether the driver had been fleeing from a crime. Investigative reporters Michael Biesecker and Bernard Condon contributed key research and reporting to flesh out the suspect,including songs posted to social media that seemed to celebrate violence. Condon and Bauer teamed up for a fresh take when it emerged that the suspect had been free on astonishingly low bond of $1,000 — for an alleged crime that involved intentionally running over a person. Reporters Tammy Webber, Todd Richmond and Condon broke down the case for intentional homicide charges.

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But the most powerful offerings of the week revolved around the victims. Chicago-based Sara Burnett,with reporting from Katie Foody,Tim Sullivan,Webber and Bauer, took readers along the parade route with a reconstruction of the tragedy that one senior news manager described as “amazing writing.” And Sullivan,with reporting from Foody and Webber, brought to life the “Dancing Grannies” — the troupe of cheerful women who lost three of their number plus a volunteer.

Waukesha combo
At left, police investigate in downtown Waukesha, Wis., after a vehicle plowed into a Christmas parade, killing six people and injuring dozens, Nov. 21, 2021. At right, a child takes part in a candlelight vigil in downtown Waukesha, Nov. 22, 2021. – AP Photo / Jeffrey Phelps
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