Mt. Vernon Register-News

July 24, 2013

Ex-trooper tries to get license back

Staff Report
The Register-News

---- — MT. VERNON — A former Illinois State Police trooper responsible for the deaths of two teenaged girls in 2007 was in the city Tuesday trying to regain his driving privileges.

Matt Mitchell attended the hearing at the Illinois Secretary of State office in the King City, and the hearing officer has 90 days to make the determination on whether he will get his driving license back.

Mitchell, formerly of Carlyle and now of Texas, killed two sisters in a crash on Interstate 64 in 2007 near Fairview Heights. He was charged of two counts of reckless homicide and two counts of aggravated reckless driving. He pleaded guilty to reckless homicide as part of a negotiated plea agreement made in 2010 in exchange for a sentence of 30 months' probation.

Mitchell was a six-year veteran of the Illinois State Police and the fatal accident was his seventh during his tenure with the ISP. On the night of the accident, he was responding to another accident, going about 126 miles per hour while talking on his cell phone, and checking e-mails on his computer, according to court reports. He crossed into oncoming traffic, killing 18-year-old Jessica Ulh and 13-year-old Kelli Uhl.

This is the third time Mitchell has petitioned to have his license restored, the first last year and the second attempt in April. Mitchell said he needs the license to get a job in Texas to support his 10-year-old daughter. A license in Illinois would mean Mitchell could get a Texas license. In addition, Mitchell pledged he would never drive or reside in Illinois if he gets a driver's license again.

Kim Schlau, mother of the two girls killed in the crash, testified at the hearing.

"I know what it is like to be asked by the troopers, who was in that car, because my children were injured so brutally that they were unrecognizable,' Schlau testified. "I know what it is like to be told that your children are dead because of the actions of someone sworn to protect them."

In a civil case against Mitchell and the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Court of Claims awarded $8 million in damages to the parents of the Uhl sisters.

The Illinois Secretary of State hearing officer has 90 days to make a ruling on the petition.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.