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Cops: Driver in Girl Scouts Crash Was 'Huffing'

Colton Treu told police he was inhaling chemical vapors before crash that killed 4
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 5, 2018 7:35 AM CST
Updated Nov 5, 2018 1:01 PM CST

(Newser) – Police think they know why the driver of a pickup veered off the road Saturday morning and struck a group of Girl Scouts with fatal consequences: Authorities in Wisconsin's Chippewa County say Colton Treu, 21, admitted that he was huffing—or inhaling chemical vapors—shortly before the crash that left three Girl Scouts and an adult chaperone dead, reports NBC News. Treu appeared in court Monday via video and had his bond set at $250,000. He faces 13 charges, including homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle. Details and developments:

  • Mother and daughter: The victims were identified Monday as Jayna S. Kelley, 9; Autumn A. Helgeson, 10; Haylee J. Hickle, 10, and her mother, Sara Jo Schneider, 32. A fourth girl, unidentified, remains in critical condition, reports the AP. All the girls were fourth-graders.
  • A passenger: Police say Treu had a passenger in the Ford F-150 with him at the time of crash: an unidentified man who later turned himself in. Both of the men admitted to huffing before the crash, reports the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

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  • The trail: Treu drove away after the crash, but a deputy tracked vehicle fluid to a home about two miles away and found the truck in the garage, per the Minneapolis newspaper. Treu and the passenger were gone, but each surrendered hours later.
  • DUI record: Treu was previously convicted of drunken driving in 2014.
  • Picking up trash: The victims were in a gully off the side of the two-lane highway, part of a Girl Scouts group picking up trash on a stretch of road they had previously "adopted," per the Chippewa Herald. "There isn't much to say," says 18-year-old Tabatha Kolve, a troop leader. "It was heartbreaking."
  • Other fatalities: The Washington Post notes this is the latest in a handful of recent tragedies to befall the Scouts community, with a 14-year-old Boy Scout killed in Georgia by a falling tree in June, and two incidents in late September: a 12-year-old Boy Scout buried by sand in Michigan and a 12-year-old Long Island Boy Scout allegedly mowed down by a drunk driver.
There has been a rash of accidents at or near school bus stops. (Read more Girl Scouts stories.)

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