Jessica Uhl, 18, and her sister, Kelli Uhl, 13, both of Collinsville, Illinois were killed in a crash with an Illinois State Trooper squad car about noon Friday, November 23, 2007. The Illinois State Trooper squad was enroute at a high rate of speed to a report of an accident with entrapment. The police squad car, driven by Illinois State Police Trooper Matt Mitchell, was cut off by another vehicle. Matt Mitchell, 29, lost control of his 2006 Chevrolet Impala cruiser and crossed the median — hitting an oncoming, westbound white Mazda sedan driven by Jessica Uhl. The collision caused a fully-involved fire in the Mazda. The sisters had just left a holiday family photo session.
An accident reconstruction investigation report to the coroner’s jury concluded that the trooper was traveling at 126 mph when he lost control of his vehicle and had slowed to 102 mph when he hit the sister’s white Mazda sedan. The trooper, who spent one month in the hospital with leg injuries, may face reckless homicide charges.
Trooper Matt Mitchell was originally westbound when he received the call to respond to an accident in Mascoutah. Mitchell had to drive westbound two miles to turn around, then would have driven eastbound 4 miles east on Interstate-64 to the Illinois Route 4 exit, and then another six miles to reach the Mascoutah accident scene at Illinois Route 4 and Stein Road — a total of 12 miles [MAP showing Interstate 64, Route 158 and Route 4/Regional MAP/SAT Closeup].
A radio call about 6 minutes before the collision announced either a “disregard” or a “slow-down” (a standard announcement that life safety issues are resolved or non-existent and do not require excessive response speed). Even without the “slow-down” announcement, many experts and politicians are on record saying that speeds approaching 100 mph are reckless and improper — “embarrassing” … “inherently negligent.”
Trooper Matt Mitchell has been involved in two previous on-duty crashes — one crash resulted in a $1.7 million judgment.
Deputy coroner Curtis Schildknecht, who presided over the inquest, limited some questioning, such as where Trooper Matt Mitchell was when he received the emergency call and whether he heard the “disregard” or “slowdown” announcement regarding the Mascoutah accident scene.