Three Girl Scouts and their chaperone were killed Saturday when they were struck by a pickup truck as they picked up trash along a Wisconsin roadside. The fourth graders had done this community project before and were wearing bright green safety vests when the vehicle struck them. The pickup fled from the scene at the time, but the driver later surrendered himself without incident to the police.
The accident occurred along County Road P in Chippewa County. The Girl Scout Troop had adopted the roadway and cleared it of trash every fall and spring. The Star-Tribune reported that around 11:40 a.m. Saturday, a black pickup went off the road and into a shallow ditch where some of the scouts were working. It swerved back onto the road and sped away. Two girls and their chaperone were dead at the scene. Two other girls were taken to the hospital by ambulance and helicopter and later died. One other girl was in critical condition at the hospital as of Saturday.
Authorities describe the spot where the accident occurred as being at the bottom of a hill and free of blind spots. Area residents stated that cars frequently come speeding over the hill in an area where there is a rapid change in the speed limit from 35 miles per hour to 55 miles per hour. Officials were not sure Saturday whether something distracted the driver, causing him to veer into the ditch.
Three Girl Scouts and an adult picking up trash in a ditch in western Wisconsin are killed in a hit-and-run crash. https://t.co/n4z9FOTE9r— The Associated Press (@AP) November 4, 2018
All of the girls were from Troop 3055 and attended Halmstead Elementary School in Chippewa Falls. They were working in a grassy area between the road and some farmland near the Highway 29 overpass when they were struck.
The driver of the Ford F-150 pickup truck has been identified as 21-year-old Colton Treu of Chippewa Falls. He’s being held at the Chippewa county jail and is expected to be charged with four counts of homicide through negligent use of a vehicle. Investigators cordoned off the stretch of road where the accident occurred Saturday to allow Lake Hallie police, Chippewa deputies, and Chippewa Falls police to conduct an investigation of the crime scene. Law enforcement vehicles were also seen parked outside Treu’s where investigators rummaged through the house and garage and examined the driveway. A tow truck was seen parked near True’s garage.
The Lake Hallie police issued a statement of sympathy to the families of those involved in the incident. A candlelight vigil will be held at 6 p.m. Sunday at Halmstead Elementary School.