Hundreds Attend Vigil for Girl Scouts, Mother Killed Collecting Trash from Side of the Road in Wisconsin
For the families and residents of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin there is a dark cloud looming and the sadness was palpable Sunday night as hundreds gathered to remember the four lives that were taken in the flash of an eye in a hit-and-run crash.
The victims, three young girls scouts and a proud mother were killed Saturday while cleaning garbage out of a ditch in Lake Hallie, Wisconsin. Police reported to CBS News that 21-year-old Colten True was driving a pickup that left the road and hit the troop and den mother. True fled the scene but later turned himself in. Lake Hallie police Sgt. Daniel Sokup told the Associated Press that Treu will be charged with four counts of homicide.
The Sun Tribune reported the crash happened in a location that was just before a hill and there were no blind-spots. Sokup stated that the location was NOT “an unsafe area.”
But Cecily Spallees, a personal care attendant at a group home located near the crash site, said drivers often go too fast there. There is a speed limit change that is posted in that location that goes from 55 mph to 35 mph.
“I’m always telling one of my residents that he shouldn’t walk this strip at night,” Spallees told the newspaper. “It’s not safe.”
It is unclear as to if Treu was somehow distracted at the time of the accident Sokup stated.
Girl Scouts of the USA CEO Sylvia Acevedo issued a statement saying,
“Our hearts are broken for the girls and families of the Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes. We ask for privacy for the council, and for the families who are mourning the tragic loss of loved ones today. 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.”
Girls Scouts gathered Sunday night, raindrops falling, candles flickering, hand in hand and sang songs of sadness for the dearly departed.
“It’s just devastating. It hits me especially hard since I have two children of my own,” Chippewa Falls resident Jill Schafer told CBS Minnesota.
Schafer was just one of the hundreds who gathered for a candlelight vigil that took place outside Halmstead Elementry School in Chippewa Falls to pray for the victims.
“I have one son here that’s in Scouts and he’s wearing his Scout uniform to help represent the scouting community,” Schafer said to CBS News.
According to investigators, the Girl Scouts, that was made up of mostly fourth graders and parent volunteers were cleaning trash along a county road when the pickup Treu was driving veered into the ditch, hitting several of the young Scouts before returning to the roadway and driving off. One of the parents and two of the scouts were killed on the scene. A third girl died at the hospital.
“I was in tears this morning. I will be weeping often this morning, I know that,” Pastor Jim Woldhuis told CBS News.
Woldhuis said that the mother and daughter that attended Chippewa Valley Bible Church where he presides were:
“Just a fun-loving girl, Girl Scout. Just your typical little fourth grade girl skipping through life.”
And her mother, “had faith, she had purpose and invested herself in her children.”
Monday morning, counselors, psychologists, therapy dogs and leaders of faith will again be at the two elementary schools where the victims were students. Later today the victim’s names are expected to be released.
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