Family Gets $8 Million in Fatal Trooper Crash
SWANSEA, Ill. (KMOX)- The mother of the Collinsville sisters who were killed in a 2007 accident caused by a speeding and texting state trooper, say an $8 million Court of Claims award allows them to “shut the door on these proceedings….and begin to heal our public grief in private.”
The $8 million reward is the highest ever given by the Court of Claims, but is much less than the $46 million family attorney Thomas Keefe Jr. was seeking. Keefe tells KMOX, “My clients believe justice was done and that’s all that matters.”
Trooper Matt Mitchell pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in the crash that killed 18-year-old Jessica Uhl and 13-year-old Kelli Uhl on I-64 in Fairview Heights. Mitchell was driving 126 mph and texting on his phone. He was sentenced to probation and is seeking workers’ compensation for the injuries suffered in the crash.
The Uhl’s mother, Kimberly Schlau read a statement Wednesday, in response to the Court of Claims award.
In read, in part: “Today becomes another day that delineates our lives. Today is the day we received the court’s decision. Today marks the day that we can say that one part of his ordeal is finished. And in a way, today begins another version of after. after the decision, when we can finally shut the door on these proceedings. After the decision, when we can begin to heal our public grief in private.
That the court found the trooper breached his duty of due care to the public, that he acted negligently by operating his vehicle in a manner that endangered th lives of the public, and that his acts caused their deaths demonstrates to us that justice was served in this case. We are hopeful that this ruling will have an impact on other officers and first responders and as a result, that no other family has to go through what our family has suffered.
Nothing will ever make us whole, but this decision gives us the ability to continue to fund the scholarships, to raise public awareness about pursuit safety, the dangers of cell phone use while driving and to continue the good that we try to do in their memories.”
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois Court of Claims has awarded $8 million to the parents of two sisters who died in a fiery wreck caused by a state trooper who was driving 126 mph while e-mailing and talking on his phone.
Matt Mitchell pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in the 2007 crash that killed 18-year-old Jessica Uhl and 13-year-old Kelli Uhl. The crash on Interstate 64 near Fairview Heights also injured two people in another vehicle.
The court awarded the $8 million in an opinion dated Tuesday.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press
SWANSEA, Ill. (KMOX) – There’s word of a multi-million dollar settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit against a former Illinois State Trooper.
Matt Mitchell was at the wheel of a squad car going 126 miles per hour when he lost control and crashed into a car on I-64 in November, 2007.
Two sisters in the other vehicle, Jessica and Kelli Uhl, were killed by the impact.
Last year, an attorney for the Uhl family filed suit seeking $46 million in damages.
The parents of the victims will meet with the media Wednesday afternoon at attorney Tom Keefe’s office in Swansea, where terms of the settlement are expected to be unveiled.
Mitchell resigned his position with the Illinois State Police last spring.
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