CHIPPEWA FALLS — Colten R. Treu admitted to authorities he saw the troop of Girl Scouts, describing them as “wearing highly visible reflective vests,” moments before he crashed his black Ford F-150 pickup truck into five people, killing four.
Treu, 21, 1060 Joseph St., Chippewa Falls, told authorities he and his roommate, John Stender, had just purchased a keyboard cleaner and began “huffing” the chemicals to get high. Treu said he took “two short huffs,” and Stender took a few more huffs.
Treu claims “he lost control of the vehicle and fishtailed after Mr. Stender grabbed the steering wheel from him,” according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Chippewa County Court.
Treu was officially charged with 11 counts Tuesday: four counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, four counts of hit-and-run involving death, and one count each of hit-and-run causing great bodily harm, intentionally abusing hazardous materials and bail jumping.
During a court hearing Tuesday afternoon, Treu waived time limits for future court proceedings. A follow-up court date was set for Dec. 11. On Monday, Judge James Isaacson set a $250,000 cash bond. As on Monday, Treu appeared in court via video Tuesday from the Chippewa County Jail.
Defense attorney Kirby Harless informed Isaacson different counsel will be assigned to Treu’s case before the next court date.
Police obtained a written statement from Stender, who admits he grabbed the wheel of the vehicle to correct Treu’s driving, but Treu yelled at him, grabbed the wheel and swerved hard, causing the truck to cross over Highway P, enter the ditch and strike the five people.
“Mr. Stender stated the next thing he recalled is waking up down the road,” the criminal complaint states.
Stender has not been charged. District Attorney Wade Newell couldn’t be reached for comment on whether charges are pending.
Five adults and seven children from Girl Scout Troop 3055 were picking up trash on Highway P in Lake Hallie, south of the Highway 29 overpass, when the crash occurred at 11:40 a.m. Saturday. Five people were struck by the black Ford F-150 truck driven by Treu.
The four deceased people are Jayna S. Kelley, 9, and Autumn A. Helgeson, 10, both of Lake Hallie; and Haylee J. Hickle, 10, and her mother, Sara Jo Schneider, 32, both of the town of Lafayette.
The fifth person injured is Madalyn Zwiefelhofer. The criminal complaint states her injuries “include traumatic aortic rupture, splenic laceration, pulmonary laceration, hematoma of the left anterior frontal lobe, acute kidney injury and acute hypoxic and hybercarbic respiratory failure.”
Treu did not stop after striking the five individuals. He drove his black truck to his home, put it in the garage and placed another vehicle in front of it.
However, an officer who arrived at the scene located a “fresh fluid trail” he followed for 1.8 miles, taking him to the garage at 1060 Joseph St., to an apartment shared by Stender and Treu. The truck had “significant front-end damage, with weeds observed stuck in the front bumper,” the criminal complaint states.
Treu and Stender were not at the house when officers arrived; Treu turned himself in at 4:33 p.m. Saturday.
Treu is accused of a similar incident recently in Rusk County, Newell said Monday. On Sept. 30, Treu appeared to be intoxicated while driving in Rusk County, went into a ditch and rolled his vehicle. Officers noticed Treu’s impairment during a field sobriety test. During a search of Treu’s car, officers found meth and marijuana, he added. Treu has not yet been charged in that Rusk County incident. He was released from that jail Oct. 2.
The criminal complaint states Treu has one drunken-driving conviction from 2014 plus the recent incident in Rusk County.
The deceased girls attended Southview and Halmstad elementary schools in Chippewa Falls.
CCF Bank and Helpful Hearts Foundation announced they have opened a benefit account for the victims and their families of the Chippewa Falls Girl Scout Troop 3055. Donations can be dropped off at their locations in Lake Hallie, Altoona and Eau Claire. CCF Bank said it will match the total of all donations up to $5,000.
The Chippewa County Economic Development Corp. also established a Go Fund Me page, which can be found at gofundme.com/chippewa-falls-girl-scout-3055.