‘This is not how it should be’

Com­mu­nity mourns Girl Scouts killed in hit-and-run crash

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Milwaukee Wisconsin - Laura Schulte

CHIPPEWA FALLS - Bal­loons flut­tered in the breeze Thurs­day morn­ing, pulling at strings at­tached to a small wooden cross along the high­way in Lake Hal­lie.

A small col­lec­tion of teddy bears and frozen bou­quets of flow­ers lay at the base of the cross, a me­mo­rial to honor the four peo­ple — three mid­dle-school girls and one woman — killed Satur­day when they were pick­ing up trash along the high­way.

“In honor of Troop #3350 and all af­fected by the dev­as­tat­ing loss of life here on 11/3/18. God’s peace and love to all,” the small note from a lo­cal church at­tached to the cross read.

Thurs­day morn­ing, fam­ily, friends and com­mu­nity mem­bers packed the Chippewa Val­ley Bible Church for the fu­neral ser­vice for two of the vic­tims, 10-year-old Haylee Hickle and her mother, Sara Sch­nei­der, 32, from the town of Lafayette. It was the first fu­neral ser­vice for vic­tims of the crash, and brightly col­ored flow­ers dec­o­rated the church as mourn­ers com­forted each other. The ser­vice was of­fi­ci­ated by the Rev. James Wold­huis, who told mourn­ers that the hearts of the com­mu­nity were break­ing with the fam­ily.

“This is not how it should be, but how it is,” he said.

Colten Treu, 21, is charged with four counts of homi­cide by in­tox­i­cated use of a ve­hi­cle in the crash. Ac­cord­ing to po­lice, Treu and a pas­sen­ger were huff­ing va­pors from a bot­tle of com­puter

key­board cleaner be­fore Treu, who was driv­ing, crossed the cen­ter line and went into the ditch.

The crash killed Hickle and Sch­nei­der and two other mem­bers of the lo­cal Girl Scout troop: 9-year-old Jayna Kel­ley and 10-year-old Au­tumn Helge­son, both of Lake Hal­lie.

Sara Denure, the prin­ci­pal of Southview El­e­men­tary School, where Haylee Hickle was a fourth-grader, spoke to those gath­ered dur­ing the ser­vice. Denure shared sto­ries writ­ten by class­mates about Haylee and how thought­ful she was. She spoke of how the young girl cared for her younger brother, Jasper, and of her mother’s car­ing na­ture.

“Both Sara and Haylee will be missed by many,” Denure said. “We were all for­tu­nate to have them in our lives.”

“I can’t help but re­al­ize how much Haylee was her mother,” said Emilee Thorn­ton, Haylee’s teacher in third grade, who also spoke.

The women spoke of how creative and artis­tic Haylee was, of­ten draw­ing pic­tures of her class­mates in only sec­onds.

Steve Hein, who helped with chil­dren’s min­istry in the church, said he knew the mother and daugh­ter well.

“The first thing we knew Sara as was a ded­i­cated and car­ing mom,” he said.

Thurs­day evening, friends and com­mu­nity mem­bers waited to pay re­spects to Au­tumn Helge­son at Our Sav­ior's Lutheran Church, though tem­per­a­tures were drop­ping and snow fell on their shoul­ders. The line stretched the length of the church and out through the park­ing lot, which was full of cars.

The crash has brought forth an out­pour­ing of love in the Lake Hal­lie and Chippewa Falls com­mu­ni­ties and be­yond. A lo­cal eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment group started a GoFundMe that has raised nearly $60,000 for fu­neral and med­i­cal ex­penses, and na­tion­wide, the Girl Scouts are hold­ing a me­mo­rial at 3 p.m. Satur­day that will in­clude com­mu­nity ser­vice.

The fu­ner­al­for Au­tumn Helge­son will be at 11 a.m. Fri­day.

LAURA SCHULTE/ USA TO­DAY NET­WORK-WIS­CON­SIN

A me­mo­rial to Girl Scout troop No. 3305 along Chippewa County High­way P, where three mem­bers of the troop and an adult vol­un­teer were killed Nov. 3.

Haylee Hickle

Sarah Sch­nei­der

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