As former Illinois State Police trooper Matt Mitchell prepares to again ask to have his driver's license reinstated, more than 198,000 people have signed an online petition urging the Secretary of State to deny his appeal.
The petition was created on the website www.change.org. The petition claims Mitchell was "let off the hook with relatively little punishment" and he never offered a "true apology" to his victims' family.
Mitchell will have a hearing to make his case to restore his driving privileges on Aug. 13 in Mount Vernon.
The former state trooper lost his job and his license in the aftermath of a Nov. 23, 2007, crash after his police cruiser crossed the center median and collided with oncoming traffic on Interstate 64 near O'Fallon.
Sisters Kelli and Jessica Uhl were killed in the crash with Mitchell's patrol car. In the moments leading up to the crash, Mitchell was driving at speeds up to 126 mph while typing on his dash-mounted computer and talking on his cell phone.
Mitchell's attorney J. Israel Slone said the online petition has multiple inaccuracies -- chief among them the claim that Mitchell did not apologize to the Uhl family.
"Anyone who would make that claim is not aware of the facts of this case and is publicizing information to the public trying to influence the Secretary of State that is simply inaccurate. We had at least three hearings where he addressed the Uhl family and offered an apology to them," Slone said.
The petition also inaccurately states Mitchell has not publicly taken responsibility for the deaths of Kelli and Jessica Uhl, according to Slone.
"He has taken full responsibility. I think it's irresponsible to put this out here and publish information that is 100 percent inaccurate," Slone said. "It's a terrible situation and I feel bad for the family but part of the petition is inaccurate."
Mitchell argued that he was responding to the scene of an accident and that he was just doing his job.
This will be Mitchell's fifth attempt to get his license back. According to his attorney, J. Israel Slone, the hearing officer during previous appeals recommended Mitchell's license be returned. But Secretary of State Jesse White, according to a spokesman in his office, personally intervened to deny Mitchell his driving privileges.
The hearing will be held at 10 a.m. at the Secretary of State's Department of Administrative Hearings facility at 218 South 12th Street in Mount Vernon.
Kim Schlau, mother of Kelli and Jessica Uhl, will testify at the hearing, opposing the reinstatement, according to family spokesperson David Craig.