A young driver was inhaling chemical vapors, or huffing, just prior to striking and killing three Girl Scouts and a mother and critically injuring a fourth girl who had been picking up trash along a rural Wisconsin highway, police said Monday.
Nine-year-old Jayna Kelley and 10-year-old Autum Helgeson, both of Lake Hallie, were also killed.
Judy Schneider, the mother of Sara Jo Schneider and Haylee's grandmother, told The Associated Press in an interview Monday that after the crash she wondered, "What was the driver thinking?"
Authorities say Treu's black pickup truck was traveling northbound on a two-lane road when the vehicle crossed over the centerline and veered into the ditch hitting the Girl Scout troop.
The girl was in foster care at a home in Tilden, a town almost 200 miles northeast of Madison that also serves as a day care centre, when she accidentally dropped the infant who hit his head on a stool and began to cry, WEAU News reported, citing Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell.
The girl is being tried in adult court, WEAU reported, but state law says the case may be referred to a juvenile court.
Treu turned himself into the Chippewa Falls Police Department at 4:33 p.m. Saturday.
One additional injured girl (age 10) is still hospitalized and is reported to be in stable condition at this time.
Prosecutors are considering 13 charges against Treu, including four counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle. First responders found an unresponsive baby bleeding from his head. 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. Judy Schneider said her 6-year-old grandson doesn't understand that they're gone.
Treu appeared via video in court Tuesday afternoon for an initial appearances on 11 counts, including four counts of homicide. They quickly settled on the girl as the prime suspect, said Chippewa County Sheriff James Kowalczyk.