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Prosecutors: Suspect fought for steering wheel before killing 3 Girl Scouts and a mom

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LAKE HALLIE — A 21-year-old driver struggled with his passenger over the steering wheel before driving his truck into a group of Girl Scouts, killing three and one of their mothers, prosecutors said Monday.

The passenger told authorities he tried to correct the vehicle Saturday, Nov. 3 when he noticed Colten Treu crossing the center line near Lake Hallie, Wisconsin, said Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell.

Treu was “somewhat out of it,” the passenger said, and grabbed the wheel back, drove off the roadway and struck the group, Newell said.

A fourth girl, 10, was injured. She in stable condition Monday at a hospital.

Treu and the passenger told police they had been “huffing,” or intentionally inhaling chemical fumes, police have said. The fatal incident was similar to one in September, when Treu crashed his car and police found methamphetamine and THC in it, Newell said in court.

After Saturday’s fatal wreck, Treu went home, hid his truck in the garage and took another car out to a party with friends, Newell said.

Police have identified the victims as:

• Jayna S. Kelley, 9, of Lake Hallie;

• Autum A. Helgeson, 10, of Lake Hallie;

• Haylee J. Hickle, 10, of Lafayette;

• Sara Jo Schneider, 32, Haylee’s mother.

The 11 charges filed against Colten Treu on Tuesday include four counts of vehicular homicide and four counts of a hit-and-run resulting in death. The punishment for those charges is up to 160 years in prison.

Below is a list of the charges:

  • Homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle (second-plus offense) — four counts
  • Hit-and-run involving death — four counts
  • Hit-and-run involving great bodily harm
  • Felony bail jumping
  • Intentionally abusing hazardous substance

Treu made his initial appearance in court on Nov. 6. A review hearing was set for Dec. 11.

Cash bond was set at $250,000 when Treu appeared in court on Monday for a bond hearing.

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