SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (CN) – A state Senate committee unanimously approved a bill that would deny worker’s compensation to people who are injured while committing “reckless homicide [that] caused an accident resulting in the death or severe injury of another person.” The committee voted after hearing emotional testimony from the mother of two sisters who were killed in a head-on crash with a state trooper.
The bill now moves to the full state Senate.
“Change this law so that no other family will have to go through what my family has had to go through,” the girls’ mother, Kimberly Schlau, told the Senate Executive Committee.
Schlau’s daughters, Kelly Uhl, 13, and Jessica Uhl, 18, were killed when former Trooper Matt Mitchell lost control of his squad car and slammed head-on into their car in November 2007.
Prosecutors said Mitchell was driving 126 mph, was not responding to an emergency, and was talking on his cell phone, emailing and texting at the time of the crash. Both girls died at the scene.
Mitchell resigned last year. He pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless homicide and received 30 months probation.
Mitchell sought worker’s compensation for injuries he received in the crash, but his claim was denied in February after arbitrator Jennifer Teague found that his injuries did not arise from state employment.
Mitchell appealed Teague’s ruling to a panel of commissioners, whose decision will be final.
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 gained the information through emails between Teague, her court reporter and the attorneys involved. The newspaper got the emails through the Freedom of Information Act.
The Uhls’ parents were awarded $8 million by the Illinois Court of Claims this year.