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Former Illinois State Police trooper who pleaded guilty in relation to deadly crash postpones hearing

Capitol News Illinois file photo

Matt Mitchell, the former Illinois State Police trooper who caused a high-speed, distracted-driving crash that killed sisters Kelli and Jessica Uhl, has asked to delay his Sept. 20 hearing for the reinstatement of his driver’s license.

Henry Haupt, a spokesperson for Illinois Secretary of State Alex Giannoulias, said in an email that the hearing had been postponed until Nov. 1 at Mitchell’s request.

Mitchell pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless homicide and two counts of aggravated reckless driving in connection with a crash the day after Thanksgiving in 2007 on Interstate 64 east in St. Clair County. That conviction triggered the revocation of his driver’s license. He has tried five times in the past to have his license reinstated.

Former Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White had previously blocked Mitchell’s attempts to have his license restored, overturning recommendations by a hearing officer to reinstate his driving privileges.

White left the office in January, making this Mitchell’s first attempt under Giannoulias.

In the crash that killed the Uhl sisters, Mitchell was responding to a call and said that a white car cut him off, causing him to lose control. He crossed the median, sending his squad car airborne before it struck Jessica Uhl’s Mazda 3 head on, causing it to catch fire. Uhl, 18, and her sister Kelli Uhl, 13, who was a passenger in the car, were pronounced dead at the scene.

A later investigation by an Illinois State Police accident reconstructionist revealed Mitchell was traveling at 126 mph and was talking on the phone with his girlfriend. The investigation further found Mitchell was using his in-dash computer. Witnesses refuted Mitchell’s account of the cut-off car.

He resigned from the state police in 2010.

Capitol News Illinois is a nonprofit, nonpartisan news service covering state government. It is distributed to hundreds of print and broadcast outlets statewide. It is funded primarily by the Illinois Press Foundation and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, along with major contributions from the Illinois Broadcasters Foundation and Southern Illinois Editorial Association.

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