Girl scouts killed by truck while litter picking on roadside

Three girls were killed and a fourth was in critical condition Saturday after the driver of a pickup truck struck members of a Girl Scout troop picking up trash on the side of a Wisconsin road, police said. He has been identified as Colton Treu, 21, of Chippewa Falls. He's expected to face 13 possible charges, including four counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, sheriff officials told the Star Tribune.

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".

Jayna Kelley, 9; Autum Helgeson, 10; Haylee Hickle, 10, and her mother, Sara Jo Schneider, 32, were all killed when they were hit by a vehicle while picking up trash along a Wisconsin county highway shortly before noon Saturday, said Lake Hallie police.

Teddy bears, flowers, and candles were placed on benches outside Halmstad Elementary School in Chippewa Falls, Wis., on Sunday, as a memorial to the three Girl Scouts and a parent who were struck and killed by a driver who fled the scene the day before.

The group of seven girls and five parents had "highly visible" green safety vests on at the time, police said in a statement.

Treu sped off from the scene but later turned himself in to police. A third girl was rushed to the hospital and died there.

Hundreds of community members huddled under umbrellas in the biting rain Sunday evening for a candlelight vigil outside Halmstad Elementary. He will be charged with four counts of homicide, Lake Hallie police Sgt. Daniel Sokup said.

The surviving girl was hospitalized in Rochester in critical condition.

Authorities are set to release the names of the girls and the woman who died on Monday.

"Our hearts are broken for the girls and families of the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes", Sylvia Acevedo, CEO of Girl Scouts of the US, said in a statement Sunday.

Chippewa Falls Area Unified School District Superintendent Heidi Eliopoulos spoke during Sunday's news conference.

"This is a frightful reminder of our nations epidemic of self-indulging with substance abuse without regard of the consequences", Lake Hallie Police Chief Cal D. Smokowicz said in a statement Monday.

An adult woman was also killed in the crash, which occurred around 11:41 a.m. on County Highway P in Lake Hallie, a village northeast of Eau Claire. "We grieve with you", the department posted on Facebook. The two-ton pickup slammed into the Scouts, visiting tragedy on the town of 14,000 before speeding off. Three of the girls and an adult volunteer were killed. 29 overpass, chattering and laughing when the Ford F-150 ploughed into them.

  • Tracy Klein