CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WCCO) — The community of Chippewa Falls, Wis., is working to heal after the death of three Girl Scouts and the mother of one of the scouts.
Jayna Kelley, 9, 10-year olds Autumn Helgeson and Haylee Hickle, along with Haylee’s mom Sara were picking up garbage as part of a service project on Saturday when a pickup went off the road, hitting and killing them.
Madlyn Zwiefelhofer was badly injured. She is currently in the hospital in stable condition.
Police say 21-year-old Colten Treu was driving the pickup truck that hit the girls. As WCCO’s Kate Raddatz reports, he’s now charged with 11 different counts related to their deaths.
Treu was dressed in an orange jumpsuit as he made his court appearance by video. It comes three days after he hit and killed three Girl Scouts and a mother, and then fled the scene.
“It’s just such a tragedy. You can let the anger take over, though you want to get mad about it, then you feel guilty but I can’t. Something that was out of our control,” Brian Kelly, the father of 9-year-old Jayna Kelly, said.
Brian Kelley’s daughter was one of the three Girl Scouts killed. Autumn Helgeson and Haylee Hickle, both 10, and her 32-year-old Sara Jo Schneider, were killed.
“I say to people you can’t make sense of this. This is impossible to make sense,” Central Lutheran Church Pastor Aaron Sturgis said.
The pastor at Central Lutheran Church in Chippewa Falls is preparing how to talk to families about the tragedy at Wednesday night worship.
“To answer the kids’ questions, just be honest with them to the questions they are asking,” Pastor Sturgis said.
According to the criminal complaint filed Tuesday, an officer followed a trail of fresh fluid moving away from the crash scene that led him to Treu’s residence. He used a search warrant to find a Ford pickup with significant front end damage.
Treu admitted to investigators he and a friend, his passenger during the crash, had been huffing computer keyboard cleaner they bought that day before the crash.
Court records also show Treu was found guilty of driving drunk in 2015. If convicted on his current 11 charges, he would essentially spend life in prison.
Treu’s next appearance in Chippewa County Court is on Dec 11.