BELLEVILLE — The former Illinois State Police trooper who was convicted of reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving for the high-speed crash that killed two Collinsville sisters and injured a Fayetteville couple has applied to have his driver's license reinstated.
Matt Mitchell submitted a 15-page non-resident, out-of-state application for reinstatement of his driving privileges on July 13, according to Dave Druker, spokesman for the Illinois Secretary of State.
Mitchell, who lived in Carlyle at the time of the crash, moved first to New Jersey, but now lives in Killeen, Texas. Because he lives out of state, he can apply in writing to have his license reinstated without attending a formal hearing, Druker said.
Mitchell, 34, was driving 126 mph in busy, day-after-Thanksgiving traffic in 2007 on Interstate 64. Prosecutors said he was sending and receiving emails and talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone in the moments before the crash. Help was already at the scene of the accident where Mitchell was responding, prosecutors have said.
Mitchell, who could not be reached Wednesday for comment, pleaded guilty in April 2010 to two counts of reckless homicide in the deaths of Kelli and Jessica Uhl. He also pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated reckless driving in connection with the injuries Kelly Marler and his pregnant wife, Christine, suffered in the accident.
Mitchell's driver's license was revoked by the Illinois Secretary of State on May 2, 2010. Under Illinois law, Mitchell could not apply for reinstatement for two years.
The application goes to a administrative officer in Springfield, who will not hold a hearing, Druker said, but will decide the matter based on the application and the character statements.
When a reporter requested a copy of Mitchell's application, Druker asked the reporter to file a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain it, and said that it was not immediately available for release.
St. Clair County assistant state's attorneys Jim Piper and Deborah Phillips, who prosecuted Mitchell, have sent a letter to the secretary of state, opposing the reinstatement of his driving privileges, along with the transcript of Mitchell's guilty plea, for the hearing officer to consider.
"Because he chose to drive like a cowboy instead of a trooper, Kim Schlau and Brian Uhl visit their daughters in a cemetery," Piper and Phillips wrote to Secretary of State Administrative Assistant Markita Rohlfs. "Because of his outrageous irresponsibility, Christine and Kelly Marler will forever be physically and emotionally scarred."
Kim Schlau, the mother of Kelli and Jessica Uhl, worked for passage of a bill that prohibits workers convicted of reckless homicide or aggravated drunken driving from receiving worker's compensation benefits.
Mitchell filed for worker's compensation for injuries he suffered in the accident. Because the bill came after Mitchell's claim, it was considered by an arbitrator and a hearing panel. Both denied his claim.
Sen. Bill Haine, who sponsored the worker's compensation bill, also filed a resolution to rename the section of I-64 between Illinois 158 and Illinois 4 the Jessica and Kelli Uhl Memorial Highway.
Schlau wrote in her letter to the hearing officer that while Mitchell admitted he was responsible for the accident during the criminal proceedings after he secured a plea deal that ensured probation, he said during a lawsuit filed by Schlau that he was "just doing my job."
She also wrote that Mitchell cost the state more than $10 million in damages, plus the salary he received for more than three years before he resigned from the Illinois State Police and pleaded guilty to the criminal charges.
The accident that killed the Uhl sisters was Mitchell's third crash in a State Police vehicle.
"When Jessica received her license, I told her that driving was a privilege, not a right, and was earned by obeying the rules of the road, as well as showing responsibility and good judgment," Schlau wrote. "Mr. Mitchell has not demonstrated that he deserves this privilege by his previous actions .... we are afraid that he will continue to show poor judgment behind the wheel of his personal vehicle which could result in future injuries or deaths."
A hearing officer has not yet been assigned to Mitchell's case, Druker said.
Madelyn Blair, a sister of the Uhl sisters who is entering 8th grade, wrote that she hopes Mitchell would not be allowed to drive again.
"I would not want him to kill or injure someone else and have that family and friends go through the same pain as my family and I have," she wrote.
Contact reporter Beth Hundsdorfer at email@example.com or 239-2570.