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Financial Toll of Fatal Crash Keeps Growing

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (CN) - The price tag for state taxpayers for a former state trooper's reckless fatal crash in November 2007 continues to grow.

The Illinois Court of Claims awarded $700,000 to Kelly and Christine Marler, of Fayetteville. The Marlers' was the third vehicle involved in a fiery accident caused by former state trooper Matt Mitchell's losing control of his squad car while driving 120 mph, talking to his girlfriend on his cell phone and sending and receiving emails just 2.5 seconds before impact.

Teenage sisters, Jessica Uhl, 18, and Kelli Uhl, 13, were the first ones hit by Mitchell and were pronounced dead at the scene. The Uhl family was awarded $8 million on Jan. 20 by the Illinois Court of Claims, the largest award ever granted by the court. Mitchell's car drove through the Uhls' car and then crashed into the Marlers' SUV. Mitchell pleaded guilty to reckless homicide.

Mitchell, 33, filed a workers compensation claim for his injuries, which was denied. The outcry against Mitchell caused state lawmakers to pass a law prohibiting workers compensation claims by employees injured while committing a crime.

Mitchell's total financial toll on the state actually started before 2007 and is more than $10 million. He was involved a no-injury accident in 2002 and another accident in 2003 that led to a 1.7 million judgment against the state, the Associated Press reported.

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