Families of Lake Hallie hit-and-run victims reflect one year later

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- It has been one year since three Girl Scouts and a mom lost their lives in a tragic crash.

On November 3, 2018, tragedy struck the Chippewa Valley when Jayna Kelley, Autumn Helgeson, Haylee Hickle, and her mother Sara Jo Schneider were killed in a hit-and-run crash during a highway cleanup project in Lake Hallie.

Judy Schneider, Haylee Hickle’s grandmother and Sara Jo’s mom, says it still feels like it happened yesterday.

"For some of you it has been a year, but for me and many of us it was yesterday,” Schneider said.

Jayna Kelley's mom, Robin, says the one year mark is a difficult day.

"There's always a lot of hype when you lose someone close that the one year is coming up and I really don't know what I'm going to feel,” Kelley said. “We're going to be really sad and were hoping to be home and remember her and be sad if we need to or laugh and watch videos of her. It's another day and I’m kind of looking forward for it to be done so we can look onto year two, it’s hard, it’s always going to be hard."

At a remembrance walk on Saturday, Autumn Helgeson's mom, Kim, said the support of the community over the past year has made the losses easier to deal with.

"We can't change the fact that they are not alongside us today,” Helgeson said. “We also cannot change the sadness that all of our troop 3055 sisters and their families have endured in losing their sister scouts. What we can do is recognize and appreciate the honor that all of you have given us by your gracious presence today."

Several state representatives were also in attendance at the walk on Saturday, including Senator Kathy Bernier who honored the lives lost by presenting a special gift to Troop 3055; a candle.

"I went to Hobby Lobby and I got wax,” Bernier said. “I put in four wicks, one for Jayna, one for Haylee, one for Autumn, and one for Sara Jo and when the wax dried, it created a hole in the middle and I thought how ironic that is because it is a hole in our life. I would like to present this to the Girl Scout Troop 3055 to burn every November third."

Kim Helgeson also said Sunday is a day to honor the lives lost and to spend time with those closest to you.

"Honor them by not taking today for granted and connecting with those that you love and even those that you find hard to love,” she said.

Read the original version of this article at www.weau.com.