The case of a man accused of huffing from an aerosol canister, then driving his pickup truck into a group of five people, killing four, on Nov. 3, will be delayed for more than two months while attorneys wait for toxicology results.
Colten R. Treu, 21, 1060 Joseph St., is charged in Chippewa County Court with four counts of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle, four counts of hit and run-involving death, and one count each of hit and run-causing great bodily harm, intentionally abusing hazardous materials and bail jumping. Treu reportedly struck a group of Girl Scouts and one of their mothers.
Treu appeared via video Wednesday from the Chippewa County Jail, joined by his two attorneys. His attorneys requested the delay.
“At this time, we would ask to put this on the calendar for a preliminary hearing, and keep this moving forward,” said defense attorney Carly Sebion.
“Everyone is waiting on toxicology reports, is that correct?” Judge James Isaacson asked the attorneys.
Chippewa County district attorney Wade Newell said it will likely be 60 days before the toxicology reports come back from the state lab. Isaacson set the return date for the afternoon of April 12, allowing for up to three hours of discussion that day. No trial dates have been set.
Treu remains incarcerated on a $250,000 cash bond. He did not speak during the short hearing. He previously waived all time limits on future proceedings in his case.
Several family members of the victims attended the hearing.
According to the criminal complaint, a group of five adults and seven children from Girl Scout Troop 3055 were picking up trash on Highway P in Lake Hallie, south of the Highway 29 overpass, when Treu’s truck struck the group at 11:40 a.m. Nov. 3.
The four deceased people are Jayna S. Kelley, 9, Autumn A. Helgeson, 10, both of Lake Hallie, Haylee J. Hickle, 10, and her mother, Sara Jo Schneider, 32, both of the town of Lafayette.
The fifth person injured was Madalyn Zwiefelhofer; she was hospitalized for three weeks, but has since been released and is back in Chippewa Falls.
Treu admitted to police he saw the troop of Girl Scouts, describing them “as wearing highly visible reflective vests,” moments before he crashed his black Ford F-150 pickup truck into five people, killing four.
Treu told authorities that he and his roommate, John Stender, had just purchased Dustoff, a keyboard cleaner, and began “huffing” the chemicals to get high. Treu said he took “two short huffs,” and Stender had taken a few more huffs. Huffing involves inhaling fumes and sprays typically from an aerosol can for the purpose of achieving a high.
Treu claims “he lost control of the vehicle and fishtailed after Mr. Stender grabbed the steering wheel from him,” according to the criminal complaint.
It is unclear if Stender will also be charged. No charges have been filed at this time.
Police obtained a written statement from Stender, who admits he grabbed the wheel of the vehicle to correct Treu’s driving, but Treu yelled at him, grabbed the wheel and swerved hard, causing the truck to cross over Highway P, enter the ditch, and strike the five people.
Treu did not stop after striking the five individuals. He drove his black truck to his home, put it in the garage, and placed another vehicle in front of it.
However, an officer who arrived at the scene was able to locate a “fresh fluid trail” which he followed for 1.8 miles, taking him to the garage at 1060 Joseph St., to an apartment shared by Stender and Treu. The truck had “significant front-end damage, with weeds observed stuck in the front bumper,” the criminal complaint states.
Treu and Stender were not at the house when officers arrived; Treu turned himself in at 4:33 p.m. that afternoon.
Treu is also charged in a similar incident recently in Rusk County. On Sept. 30, Treu appeared to be intoxicated while driving in Rusk County, went into a ditch and rolled his vehicle. Officers noticed Treu’s impairment during a field sobriety test. During a search of Treu’s car, officers found meth and marijuana. He returns to court there on Feb. 12.
The criminal complaint states that Treu has one drunk-driving conviction from 2014, plus the recent incident in Rusk County.
The deceased girls attended Southview Elementary and Halmstad Elementary in Chippewa Falls.
Subzero temperatures and beyond bone-chilling wind chills prompted schools, banks and other businesses to close around Wisconsin, but it didn’t stop Seth Vorvick from making sure hungry folks in the Chippewa Valley got their pizza fix Tuesday night.
Vorvick has been delivering pizzas for Toppers in Chippewa Falls for the past two years, and he said the common notion that driving in poor weather is unbearable isn’t exactly true for an often overlooked occupation.
“The snow and cold weather doesn’t really make my job more difficult,” Vorvick said. “The first thing my manager said to me when I walked in today was ‘Just so you know, at any point tonight you can stop if you don’t feel comfortable.’ So, it isn’t like I’m forced to be out here. We actually look forward to times like these just because there are usually more orders.”
Jumping in and out of his pizza-filled vehicle to deliver to patrons who are eager for a hot cheese-topped meal is second nature to the employees of Toppers, Vorvick said. He said the key to success during this time of the year is constantly keeping your car running to avoid cold product, always having a full tank of gas so your fuel doesn’t freeze over, airing down your tires when snow is coming and acting as if it is just a normal run despite the weather.
Unlike many businesses that curse to the sky when there is snow, cold weather or rain, Vorvick said Toppers often looks forward to this type of weather because it keeps them busy — and in the nasty conditions, individuals recognize how valuable services like Toppers and other pizza delivery companies are.
“Some people feel bad when we deliver in bad weather,” Vorvick said. “My first delivery today the customer was apologizing for how cold it was, but I just said ‘This is my job.’ They still tipped me $15, so that was definitely out of the ordinary.”
An organization more than a century old is opening up its doors to young women around the country.
The Scouts BSA, also known as the Boy Scouts of America, are now opening up all of their ranks to young women for the first time. Starting in February, youth Scouts ages 11-17 will be allowed to join a Scouts BSA Troop for girls, who will participate in the same activities their male counterpart troops will.
The newest girls troop to be added to Scouts BSA will be in Troop 13, the longest continuous running troop in the Chippewa Valley. In an effort to recruit new female members, Trinity United Methodist Church will host an open house for interested girls on Monday, Feb. 4, at 6:30 p.m. That night attending families will have the opportunity to ask questions about scouts. More information is available on BeAScout.org.
Mike Buchmann, committee member with Troop 13 and father of a Scout in the upcoming female Troop 13, said the decision to include female Scouts in Troop 13 and around the country derived from wanting to bring together families.
“The Boy Scouts decided to make the Boy Scouts into a family group,” Buchmann said. “Last year they decided to add girls to Cub Scouts so the boys and the girls could go to their meetings and activities as an entire family. Naturally, that came up to the Boy Scout level this year.”
Before every age group in the Scouts BSA allowed girls, the past few years saw one age group take the first step to be more inclusive. In 2018, girls ages 5-10 could join the Cub Scout Program, the youngest age bracket of Scout in the program and traditionally the stepping stone to joining higher ranked Scouting organizations later on in life.
Prior to the Cub Scouts allowing girls in their Troops, other BSA programs included girls for many years, including Venturing, Exploring, STEM Scouts and the Sea Scouts.
Buchmann said another reason for including females in their ranks came from the girls’ disinterest in traditional activities usually included with the Girl Scout program.
“There have been a lot of girls who’ve wanted to do the more traditional camping and traditional activities that the Boy Scouts have been doing,” Buchmann said. “So, the hope is that we can get enough girls together who can form their own troop and begin to participate in these activities and programs this year.”
While girls will now be admitted into Scouts BSA, the female and male Troops will still operate separately from one another with different leadership. But while the troops won’t be co-ed in many areas, the troops will most likely come together for different activities and events over the course of the year.
For more information on Scouts BSA and how to get involved with Troop 13 in Chippewa Falls, you can visit BeAScout.org.
LAKE HALLIE — Two Eau Claire men — and their fellow diners — were in for a whopper of a surprise at a local fast food restaurant Tuesday night after Lake Hallie police offers, acting on a tip, busted an alleged drug deal.
Bruce E. Caver, 44, was booked into the Chippewa County Jail on charges of possession of methamphetamine, possession of drug paraphernalia and resisting arrest as well as a probation violation, while Duane L. Perkins, 39, was kept on a probation hold.
According to a release from the Lake Hallie Police Department, officers were dispatched to the Burger King on 120th Street after a caller stated that two men in a booth exchanged what the caller believed to be a bag of drugs and money. Officers arrived at the store and contacted the subjects, who were identified as Caver and Perkins. According to the release, officers determined a drug deal had taken place and found a bag of suspected methamphetamine in Caver’s pockets.
When officers attempted to handcuff him, he ran for the exit of the store but didn’t make it outside. Caver then continued to resist and attempted to disarm an officer by grabbing the officer’s stun gun. The other officer then tackled Caver to the ground and a stun gun was used on Caver, who continued to resist arrest, according to the report. One of the officers received minor injuries; Caver was not injured.
Other unidentified narcotics were sent to the state crime lab for testing and other charges may be filed as a result of the testing.
A court date for either man hasn’t been set yet.
Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct spelling of Bruce Caver.(tncms-asset)7a58e154-cb37-11e8-886f-00163ec2aa77(/tncms-asset)