Cell Phone-Chatting Cop + Poor Judgment = Bad News

A wrongful death suit was filed against the State of Illinois in the Court of Claims that seeks damages of $46 million for the death of two sisters. The Uhl sisters, one 18 and one 13, were driving in a car when it was hit by an Illinois State Trooper who was traveling more than 100 miles per hour.

In addition, the trooper was talking on his cell phone AND using the patrol car’s computer to send e-mail when the accident occurred. The trooper, Matt Mitchell, has since pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving.

Mitchell was responding to a call about a traffic accident when he crashed into the Uhl sisters. He claimed a vehicle had cut him off, thus causing the crash, but the car was never found. The $46 million requested by the Uhl family is for economic and non-economic damages. The accident occurred on November 23, 2007. In the Court of Claims the attorneys present their case to a hearing officer, who then makes a recommendation to a panel. The seven-member panel then makes a final verdict.

Whatever the outcome, there is no denying this was a terrible and tragic accident. Officers are sworn to protect the public, but sometimes they put the public in danger when they become too focused on a pursuit.