Wisconsin prosecutors have filed vehicular homicide charges against a man who was allegedly inhaling chemical vapors before he crashed his truck into a group of Girl Scouts, killing three children and one adult.
Colten Treu, 21, had 11 charges filed against him on Tuesday that included four counts of vehicular homicide and four counts of a hit-and-run resulting in death. The punishment for those charges alone is up to 160 years in prison.
The Saturday crash killed 9-year-old Jayna Kelley and 10-year-old Autum Helgeson, both of Lake Hallie, and 10-year-old Haylee Hickle and her mother, 32-year-old mother, Sara Jo Schneider, from the Town of Lafayette.
Colten Treu, 21, had 11 charges filed against him on Tuesday that included four counts of vehicular homicide and four counts of a hit-and-run resulting in death
Jayna Kelley, nine, was one of the scouts killed in the crash. ‘There was no warning. It was fast. It was from behind. No one could turn around,’ Robin Kelley, the girl’s mother and troop leader, said
‘There was no warning. It was fast. It was from behind. No one could turn around,’ Robin Kelley, the troop leader and mother to Jayna, said to CBS News.
She and her daughter posed for a photo just moments before the accident.
‘All the girls, they’re family. They were Jayna’s closest friends,’ Kelley added.
Her husband, Brian, added: ‘You want to get mad about it, and you feel guilty about it, but you can’t. It was just something that was out of our control.’
Treu confessed to police that he had been huffing chemicals to get high just before the crash, authorities said.
Treu veered across lanes and off a straight road into a ditch where his black Ford pick-up truck struck the girls and Schneider.
Ten-year-old Autumn Helgeson was one of the three Girl Scouts who were tragically killed while picking up trash on the side of the road in Lake Hallie, Wisconsin on Saturday morning
Ten-year-old Haylee Hickle (left) and her 32-year-old mother, Sara Schneider (right), a security guard from the town of Lafayette, were also tragically killed in the horrific crash
Treu sped off from the scene but later turned himself in to police.
His passenger also turned himself in and both admitted they had intentionally inhaled chemicals to get high ‘just prior’ to the crash, police said.
Another 10-year-old who was struck in the crash is hospitalized in stable condition. Her name has not been released.
The fourth graders from the Chippewa Falls School District were picking up trash along County Highway P when they were struck.
The victims were among seven children and five adults who were working in the ditches along the roadway. Pictured is Haylee Hickle
Mourners at the school held a candlelit vigil to pay tribute to the girls. Pictured: Haylee Hickle
Tire tracks marked with spray paint lead to where a vehicle struck the three girls and the adult
On Sunday night mourners at Halmstad Elementary School held a candlelit vigil to pay tribute to the girls.
The victims were among seven children and five adults who were working in the ditches along the roadway.
‘Our hearts are broken for the girls and families of the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes,’ CEO Sylvia Acevedo of Girl Scouts of the USA said in a statement Sunday.
‘The Girl Scout Movement everywhere stands with our sister Girl Scouts in Wisconsin to grieve and comfort one another in the wake of this terrible tragedy.’
Lake Hallie police Sgt Daniel Sokup said the pickup, a black Ford F-150, crossed a lane and veered into a roadside ditch, striking the victims. Medical personnel are pictured at the scene
Girl Scouts sing as hundreds of community members turn out in the rain Sunday evening for a candlelight vigil at Halmstad Elementary School in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin
Sherri Jasper, a Girl Scout board member and counselor at Halmstad Elementary School, leads the program for a candlelight vigil at the school
Girl Scout Jessica Lauterbach, 12, of Altoona, Wisconsin, attends the vigil on Sunday evening
A relative of Sara Schneider looks at the path he thought the truck took when it veered off Wisconsin County Highway
Counselors, faith leaders and trained school staff would be available at least through Monday at the two elementary schools, according to Chippewa Falls School District Superintendent Heidi Eliopoulos.
‘This is a difficult time for our students, families and staff,’ Eliopoulos said in a message to parents.
‘We will be providing ongoing support for both students (and) families and staff for as long as needed.’
Teddy bears, balloons and candles sat on two wooden benches in front of Halmstad Elementary School on Sunday while dozens of families met inside with faith leaders and counselors.
Families did the same at Southview Elementary School, the other school in Chippewa Falls the girls attended, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
‘It’s been very nice. There’s been a lot of people – it’s been a very supportive environment,’ said Michelle Golden, human resources director for the school district.
Teddy bears, flowers, and candles were placed on benches outside Halmstad Elementary School in Chippewa Falls as a memorial to the three Girl Scouts and the parent
Lake Hallie police Sgt. Daniel Sokup said the pickup, a black Ford F-150, crossed a lane and veered into a roadside ditch, striking the victims.
Other members of the troop were picking up trash from the opposite shoulder. They were all wearing bright green safety clothing.
The Star Tribune reported that the crash happened before a hill and there were no blind spots, and Sokup said it was ‘not an unsafe area.’
But Cecily Spallees, a personal care attendant at a group home near the crash site, told the newspaper that drivers regularly speed on that stretch of road, which quickly changes from a 55-mph to a 35-mph zone.
‘I’m always telling one of my residents that he shouldn’t walk this strip at night,’ Spallees said. It’s not safe.’