It was unclear if the driver was distracted in the lead-up to the crash, police said. (AP: Steve Kinderman)
A small community in the US state of Wisconsin is in mourning after three Girl Scouts and an adult volunteer were killed in a hit-and-run while picking up litter along a rural road on Saturday.
- Two girls died at the scene, along with the mother of one victim
- Another girl died after being rushed to hospital
- Driver expected to be charged with four counts of homicide
Tweet from Girl Scouts: Our hearts are with our girl Scout sisters in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin.
Two small groups of Girl Scouts, aged around nine and 10, were collecting rubbish on both sides of a country road north of the Chippewa County village of Lake Hallie, along with two adult supervisors.
Police say a black Ford F-150 ute crossed a lane, veered off the road into a ditch and hit the group.
The driver sped off, leaving two girls and one woman dead.
Two other girls were taken to hospital with critical injuries; however, doctors could not save one of the girls, who died several hours later.
The deceased woman was identified as the mother of one of the dead girls in a report from local broadcaster WEAU News, however the names of the victims have yet to be released.
Another group of girls and an adult chaperone were on the other side of the road shoulder at the time of the crash.
The driver, 21-year-old Colten Treu, later surrendered to authorities after police launched a search for the vehicle.
Girl Scouts chief executive Sylvia Acevedo paid tribute to the girls and the woman in a statement on Sunday, saying “our hearts are broken” over the tragedy.
Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes said the crash was a “tragic loss in our Girl Scout sisterhood” in a Facebook post.
“Please keep the Nokomis Service Area volunteers and families in your thoughts and prayers as they grapple with this senseless loss,” the post read.
A candlelight vigil was held for the victims at Halmstead Elementary School, where two of the deceased girls attended, on Sunday night.
Tweet from Alex Lehnert: I believe this video speaks for itself #GirlScouts at Halmstad Elementary School
Sergeant Daniel Sokup of the Lake Hallie Police said the stretch of road had no blind spots, with the crash occurring just before an incline in the road.
It was unclear it Treu was distracted in the moments leading up to the crash, Sergeant Sokup told Minnesota’s Star Tribune.
It is expected the 21-year-old will be charged with four counts of homicide through the negligent use of a vehicle.
Treu is currently being held at the Chippewa County Jail.