MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Wisconsin community is grieving the sudden loss of four lives, as a mother and three girl scouts were killed in a hit-and-run crash over the weekend that was allegedly the result of the driver “huffing.”

The four were killed while cleaning garbage out of a ditch in Lake Hallie. Police say a 21-year-old driver of a pick-up truck veered off the road and hit the troop. He took off, later turning himself in.

The driver was identified as 21-year-old Colten Treu. The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office said that authorities are pursuing charges that would include four counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle, four counts homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, four counts of hit-and-run involving death, and one count of hit-and-run involving great bodily harm.

The victims have been identified as Jayna S. Kelley, 9, Autumn A. Helgeson, 10, Haylee J. Hickle, 10, and her mother, Sara Jo Schneider, 32. Officials say a 10-year-old girl is still battling critical injuries in the hospital.

After turning himself in to police, Treu admitted to police that he and the passenger in his vehicle had intentionally inhaled chemicals, which is commonly referred to as “huffing,” just prior to the incident.

On Sunday, hundreds of community members gathered outside Halmstad Elementary School in Chippewa Falls. Some of the girls were fourth graders.

The crowd held candles and sang songs in the rain.

Pastor Jim Woldhuis says the mother and daughter who died attended Chippewa Valley Bible Church, where he presides.

Kelly’s father, Brian Kelley, posted a statement to his Facebook page Sunday evening thanking the community for its support.

“Thank you to everyone that has stopped by, messaged, called, etc. Robin, Terra and I couldn’t get thru this without you. Thank you to all the friends, family, co-workers, students, and complete strangers that came to the candlelight vigil tonight. I’ve never seen anything like it. If I’m honest, one of my predominant emotions has been anger. The vigil made me feel peaceful. I’m thankful to whoever organized it.”

Counselors, psychologists, therapy dogs and faith leaders will again be at the two elementary schools where the victims were students.

  1. Janet Teal Zimny says:

    This makes me very sad. There is a difference between huffing and dusting and this sounds like a dusting accident. Huffing is a very bad idea and dusting is not only that but you normally don’t remember the high and many times you have seizures. For some reason part of the high is driving and dusting. And I have been researching and trying to figure out why, but every time they feel the need to go at a target. Whether it be another vehicle or building or people. I don’t think they even know what it is. Dust off is one of the brands used. It is used to clean your computer. I have read of accidents and contacted local authorities to let them know what they are on, but normally they are charged and released with reckless driving. As a parent of an addict I know this first hand. After finding out from his friend why he kept wrecking his vehicles it still took me awhile to believe it well since then I have had to watch my son spiral and I have turned him in more than once and I will continue to do so if he wud ever use again. You see he went to prison for three years & as a parent I never thought I would be going to visit a child in prison & he never thought he would be there either. But I would rather visit him there instead of at the cemetery & live with the thought that he may have killed someone if I hadn’t turned him in. A lot of people don’t live through there first high & a lot of those who do wished they’d didn’t. You see you can not detect this through urine & it has t be taken in a certain time frame for blood work & is very expensive. Well now they can rest you for some of the chemicals and use that to charge them with whatever needs be. That could be reckless driving, DUI of a dangerous chemical (weapon), or criminal vehicular or manslaughter or murder. So all of you using this & to any parents dealing with a child or spouse using look at these beautiful people who there families no longer have & then say I cannot fix this I need some help & please turn them in. It may be the hardest thing at the moment, but I promise you it won’t be as hard as what these families have to bear. You may reach out to me at anytime & i will be there to help any of you. I have reached out to schools to speak of this and CD programs and nobody has taken me up on my offer. So now people let’s talk about this.