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Four dead after drug induced hit and run

by Courtney Deeran - Copy Editor
Tue, Nov 13th 2018 07:00 pm
rest in peace The four victims of the tragic hit and run are (from left to right), 9-year-old Jayna Kelly, 10-year-old Autum Helgeson, 10-year-old Halee Hickle and her mother,  32-year-old Sara Jo Schneider.
rest in peace The four victims of the tragic hit and run are (from left to right), 9-year-old Jayna Kelly, 10-year-old Autum Helgeson, 10-year-old Halee Hickle and her mother, 32-year-old Sara Jo Schneider.

 On Saturday, Nov. 3 a group of seven girl scouts and five of their mothers were picking up trash along a Wisconsin highway when a car veered off the road and ran into the group. The accident resulted in the death of three of the girl scouts, 9-year-old Jayna Kelley, 10-year-old Autumn Helgeson, 10-year-old Haylee Hickle and Hickle’s mother, 32-year-old Sara Jo Schneider. Another 10-year-old girl was also injured during the incident, but is in stable condition, according to ABC. There was an arrest made in regard to the incident. 21-year-old Colten Treu and a passenger who was in Treu’s truck at the time of the accident had been taken in for questioning after the hit and run. 

The passenger claimed he took the wheel after noticing Treu looked, “out of it,” according to Chicago’s WGN9. Prosecutors have brought vehicular homicide charges on Treu. Of the 11 charges filed, four counts are for vehicular homicide and four counts are for hit and run resulting in death. These charges would result in up to 160 years in prison. Treu is currently being held on $250,000 cash bond. Treu initially fled the scene, but later turned himself in, along with his passenger. Before the crash, both Treu and his passenger had been inhaling chemical vapors, also known as “huffing,” according to ABC. Police Chief Cal D. Smokowicz took the time to call attention to substance abuse and how it affects a community. “This is a horrible reminder of our nations epidemic of self-indulging with substance abuse without regard of the consequences” Smokowicz said. 

A mother of one of the girls and troop leader, Robin Kelley said there was no warning. “It was fast. It was from behind. No one could turn around,” according to CBS News. Kelley’s husband, Brian Kelley, also spoke on the unpredictability of the incident saying, “You want to get mad about it, and you feel guilty about it, but you can't. It was just something that was out of our control.”

CEO of Girl Scouts of the USA, Sylvia Acevedo released a statement the day following the incident saying, “Our hearts are broken for the girls and families of the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes. The Girl Scout Movement everywhere stands with our sister Girl Scouts in Wisconsin to grieve and comfort one another in the wake of this terrible tragedy,” according to Time Magazine. An interview with Cecily Spallees, a personal care attendant at a group home near the site of the accident, reported the road is unsafe as many people tend to speed on that stretch. 

This tragic event has only brought the community together during the candlelight vigil held for the girls on Sunday evening. Girl scouts in Fort Wayne also held a candlelight vigil as part of a nationwide Girl Scout vigil to remember the girls. During the vigil there was a moment of silence followed by the recitation of the Girl Scout promise. The troops also collected donations and cards written to the families of the victims. 

Ruth Strawser, Director of Brand and Strategy Management said, “Part of our Girl Scout Law is being a sister to every girl scout, so when the accident happened, it was like we lost some of our own sisters. 

We are just showing our support for those girls and their families by doing a nationwide vigil to show that we love and care and we're sending our prayers.”

Why does it take tragic accidents to bring to light a deeper issue? How is it that people can look on the bright side during moments such as this? 

Those taking this opportunity to lecture about the serious implications of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, while not wrong, are exploiting a traumatic loss for many family members and friends to make a statement. Where were they before this happened? As a country and community, we shouldn’t wait for something terrible to happen to realize some things have serious and life changing consequences.