A Wisconsin man who fatally crashed into a group of Girl Scouts as they collected litter along the street before driving away has been sentenced to 54 years in prison.
Colten Treu, 23, pleaded no contest to charges of homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and guilty to a charge of hit and run involving great bodily harm in December, WEAU reported.
Chippewa County Circuit Court Judge James Isaacson got emotional handing Treu his prison sentence on Wednesday, citing the girls as "among the best and the brightest" of Chippewa.
"Someone's missing at Christmastime. At Easter, at school events, at Halloween," Isaacson said, according to the Star Tribune. "No graduation, no prom. No chance to prove just how great they could have become."
On Nov. 3, 2018, Treu drove off a road after "huffing" computer board cleaner. His pickup truck struck four Troop 3055 Girl Scouts and a supervising mother while the group picked up trash as part of a volunteer project. He killed three of the girls and the mother, authorities said.
He promptly fled the scene of the crime and returned home, according to the criminal complaint obtained by WEAU at the time.
The hit-and-run left Halyee Hickle, 10, and her mother Sara Jo Schneider, 32, dead, alongside friends Autumn Helgeson, 10, and Jayna Kelley, 9.
Madalyn Zwiefelhoerfer, 10 at the time of the incident, suffered internal injuries and some broken bones, but survived the collision, WCCO reported at the time.
All of them were wearing visible reflective safety vests, according to NBC News.
"The community has every right to hate me. All of you have every right to hate me," Treu said before his sentencing, as reported by the New York Daily News. "I cannot give back what has been taken, and I know that I will never understand the pain and suffering and grieving these losses have caused."
In addition to serving 54 years behind bars, Treu will have 45 years of extended supervision, WEAU reported.
The Girl Scouts of the Northwestern Great Lakes also released a statement in light of Treu's sentencing.
"We are thankful for the sentence handed down today for the deaths and injuries of our beloved Girl Scouts," it read, according to NBC News. "We remain fully in support of Troop 3055, their families, and our Girl Scout community and hope today's sentencing provides some small measure of closure as the families continue to try and rebuild after immeasurable loss."
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