'He left them like garbage': Victims' families speak before sentencing of Wis. man who hit Girl Scout troop
A hearing for the Wisconsin man charged in a crash that killed four people, including three Girl Scouts, in 2018 began Tuesday.
Colten Treu appeared in Chippewa County court as family members of the victims got a chance to speak.
It was an emotional hearing as several people spoke, many of whom witnessed the crash. In total, more than 25 people were scheduled to address the judge.
Treu changed his plea to no contest on four counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and guilty on count of hit-and-run in December. Prosecutors allege Treu and his passenger were huffing a can of air duster when their truck went off the road and hit a Girl Scout troop that was picking up roadside litter. Police said Treu drove home and went to a party before turning himself in to authorities later.
Nine-year-old Jayna Kelley, 10-year-old Autumn Helgeson, 10-year-old Haylee Hickle and her mother, 32-year-old Sara Jo Schneider, were all killed in the crash.
"Autumn will never get to experience life's firsts. No driver's license, no prom, no marriage, no grandchildren, this is a small sample of the pain our family is dealing with," said Bradley Helgeson, the father of Autumn Helgeson. "We all pray for answers for such a senseless, preventable loss. I still don't know how to deal with such grief at such times."
Brian Kelley, the father of Jayna Kelley, said, "Our Jayna was killed at the age of 9, and that's the age she will forever remain in our minds. Happy memories of her get a little less vivid as the time passes, unfortunately for me, images from the day of the crash don't get any less vivid though."
"I felt anger, I saw pieces of the truck laying close to where Jayna was hit — I had never felt such anger before — helplessness, crushing sorrow and despair and so much anger," added Robin Kelley, Jayna's mother.
Judy Schneider lost both her daughter, Sara, and her granddaughter, Haylee, in the crash.
"The world lost a little girl with big dreams," Schneider said during her address.
The father of an injured Girl Scout who survived the crash also spoke Tuesday, saying of Treu, "He left them like garbage."
"I can't imagine forgiving the defendant for what he did that day … I wish that he'll go away and we'll never have to hear about him again," Brian Kelley said.
A video was played in court during sentencing where Treu says, "I'm sorry," on the defense's tape.
"I was hurt knowing people were harmed by my actions," he went on to say. In the pre-produced video by the defense, Treu blames his passenger for grabbing the wheel.
Final arguments are expected to be heard Wednesday before Treu is sentenced.