No Worker’s Comp for Speeding Trooper

BELLEVILLE, Ill. (CN) – A former state trooper who killed two teen-age sisters while talking on his cell phone and texting at 126 mph was denied worker’s compensation. The arbitrator found that Matt Mitchell’s injuries did not arise out of his employment with the state.

     Police said Mitchell was driving 126 mph in November 2007 when he crossed the highway median and crashed head-on into a car containing Kelli Uhl, 13, and Jessica Uhl, 18. Both girls died.
     Mitchell, who allegedly was talking on his cell phone, texting and emailing at the time of the crash, resigned and pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless homicide. He received probation under a plea agreement.
     The arbitrator, Jennifer Teague, came under fire this month when the Belleville News Democrat reported that she tried to keep Mitchell’s worker’s comp hearings in private, away from the media.
     The News Democrat got its information from emails between Teague, her court reporter and the attorneys involved. The paper received the emails through the Freedom of Information Act.
     The Uhls’ parents received an $8 million award from the Illinois Court of Claims this year.
     Either side may ask a panel of three commissioners to review the decision.

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