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A Wisconsin man accused of being behind the wheel when his truck crashed into a group of Girl Scouts cleaning up trash along a highway, killing four people, has been charged with 11 counts, including homicide charges.
Prosecutors filed the 11 counts against Colten Treu, 21, of Chippewa Falls, on Tuesday, according to court records.
Treu's Ford F-150 allegedly careened off County Highway P in the village of Lake Hallie at around 11:41 a.m. Saturday, killing three girls and the mother of one of those children. Police have said that Treu and his passenger told investigators that they had been "huffing" chemicals to get high before the crash, police said.
Treu and his passenger initially fled the scene of the crash but later turned themselves in to Chippewa Falls police, Lake Hallie police have said. The Girl Scouts were in a ditch on the side of the highway conducting a cleanup project when they were struck.
Treu is being held in lieu of $250,000 bail, and he appeared in court Tuesday via a videoconference in a brief hearing. A court date was set for Dec. 11.
Treu was charged Tuesday with four counts of homicide while intoxicated; four counts of hit and run involving death and one count of hit and run involving great bodily injury; one count of bail jumping and one count of intentionally abusing a hazardous substance, according to online court records.
Treu and his passenger told investigators they had been huffing from a computer keyboard cleaner they'd purchased that day, the Associated Press reported. The passenger, who has not been arrested or charged, told police he grabbed the steering wheel when he saw that Treu "looked out of it" and that the truck was crossing over the road's center line.
Treu told investigators he never passed out and that his passenger "was huffing a lot more than him," according to the complaint. He said he "lost control of the vehicle and fishtailed" after his passenger grabbed the steering wheel.
Prosecutors said Treu was involved in a similar incident in September when his vehicle rolled over while he was under the influence of drugs.
The three Girl Scouts killed in Saturday’s crash have been identified by police as Jayna Kelley, 9; Autumn Helgeson, 10; and Haylee Hickle, 10. The parent killed was Haylee's mother, Sara Jo Schneider, 32.
A fourth girl was injured and had been reported to be in critical condition, but police said Monday that she was stable.
"This is a horrible reminder of our nations epidemic of self-indulging with substance abuse without regard of the consequences," Lake Hallie Police Chief Cal D. Smokowic said in a statement posted to Facebook Monday. "Words cannot describe our Lake Hallie community’s sorrow for the witnesses, victims, and their families. This senseless crash was completely avoidable."