On Saturday November 3, 2018, at about 11:41am Chippewa Fire District and the Village of Lake Hallie Police responded to CTH-P north of CTH-OO in the Village of Lake Hallie, Chippewa County, Wisconsin for a traffic crash. When the two on duty Lake Hallie Officers arrived on scene, they learned that a black pickup truck struck 5 pedestrians and fled the scene. This traffic crash resulted in the death of 4 members of a Girl Scout Troop.
The local Girl Scout group consisted of 12 persons (5 adults and 7 children) who participating in a highway cleanup project. All members were wearing green highly visible safety vests. All members of the group were in the ditch, not on the pavement or gravel shoulder at the time of the crash. The speed limit at this location is 45mph and the roadway is straight with no obstructions. The entire group was on the west side of CTH-P just south of the STH-29 overpass bridge.
A black truck heading northbound on CTH-P veered out of its lane, crossing over the center line and left the road entirely into the west side ditch line striking 5 members of the group. The truck failed to stop and render aid, but instead left the scene of the crash. The truck was last observed heading north towards the City of Chippewa Falls.
Additional paramedics from the City of Chippewa Falls were summoned. The Wisconsin State Patrol will be handling the reconstruction portion of the accident. The Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office and City of Chippewa Falls Police also responded to the scene. At 1:30pm Chippewa County Deputy Mark Hollister was able to diligently track vehicle fluids, from the crash scene approximately 1.8 miles to an address in the City of Chippewa Falls.
The City of Chippewa Falls Police secured the home and garage while Sheriff’s Deputies obtained a warrant. The truck was found to be abandoned in the garage at this location and the driver and a passenger had left the house prior to police arriving.
The traffic crash claimed the lives of Jayna S. Kelley (age 9) of Lake Hallie, Autum A. Helgeson (age 10) of Lake Hallie, Haylee J. Hickle (age 10) and her mother Sara Jo Schneider (age 32) from the Town of Lafayette. One additional injured girl (age 10) is still hospitalized and is reported to be in stable condition at this time.
On Saturday November 3, 2018 at 4:33pm Colten R Treu (age 21) of Chippewa Falls turned himself in to Officers from the City of Chippewa Falls Police. The passenger in the truck turned himself in to the City of Eau Claire Police at 3:54pm on the same day. Both subjects gave statements to police which included that they had been intentionally inhaling chemical vapors which is commonly called “Huffing”, just prior to the accident.
Colten R Treu has been arrested and confined in the Chippewa County Jail on 4 counts of Homicide by Negligent Use of a Motor Vehicle, 5 counts of Hit and Run and 4 counts of Homicide while intoxicated (use of inhalants). Ultimately any final charging decisions will be made from the Chippewa County District Attorney’s Office.
This investigation is far from over and any persons who may have witnessed this accident are encouraged to contact the Lake Hallie Police Department. Our department greatly appreciated the assistance that it has received from neighboring jurisdiction on this terrible crash. This is a horrible reminder of our nations epidemic of self-indulging with substance abuse without regard of the consequences. Words cannot describe our Lake Hallie community’s sorrow for the witnesses, victims, and their families. This senseless crash was completely avoidable.
Cal D. Smokowicz, Chief
Village of Lake Hallie Police Department