The recent horrific accident in Chippewa County that took the lives of three local Girl Scouts and an adult supervising them on a road clean-up has shaken both the scouting community and everyone in the area. A vigil last night helped the grieving process in the Chippewa Valley and this process will unfold for a long time to come. For those of you who might like to help the families and Girl Scout Troop financially, a GoFundMe has been established - the link is at the end of the article. 

The driver of the pickup truck, Colton R. Treu, 21, of Chippewa Falls, finally turned himself into authorities after leaving the scene of the accident. This morning's news that he has admitted to huffing as-yet-unidentified chemicals before the accident explains the wildly erratic driving involved in the incident. Drug and alcohol abuse in the area is a continual problem, and needs to be taken more seriously. The signs were there. Mr. Treu was charged with drunk driving in 2011, when he was apparently under age. Wisconsin needs to make better decisions on dealing with people with drug and alcohol issues. Certainly we need to do better at treating drug dependencies, and using more innovative programs such as drug courts. But we also need to do better at protecting citizens from the inevitable outcomes of these problems. We continue to be one of the more lax states in driving while intoxicated law. We continue to be the only state in the country that does not criminalize first-offence drunk driving. 

Tragedies are often an opportunity to learn. Let's hope that this sad event becomes a catalyst for improved treatment for drug dependencies, and better steps to keep impaired divers off the road. 

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Steve Hanson

Steve is a web designer and recently retired from running the hosting and development company Cruiskeen Consulting LLC. Cruiskeen Consulting LLC is the parent company of Wis.Community, and publication of this site continues after his retirement.

Steve is a member of LION Publishers and the Local Media Association, is active in Health Dunn Right, and is vice-president of the League of Women Voters of the greater Chippewa Valley


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