Mother speaks on dangers of distracted driving after daughters killed

A mother speaking out, trying to make roads safer after her two daughters were killed in a collision with an Illinois State trooper whose patrol car was going 126 miles per hour.
March 24, 2014 5:24:02 AM PDT
A mother is speaking out, trying to make roads safer after her two daughters were killed in a collision with an Illinois state trooper whose patrol car was going 126 miles per hour.

The Illinois state trooper that caused the crash was not only going 126 miles per hour, he was distracted by his cell phone and computer.

It's been over six years since Kim Schlau's teenage daughters were killed the day after Thanksgiving. Ever since, Schlau has made it her cause to teach safety to the law enforcement community.

Kim Schlau spends of her a lot of her time in hotels. She travels from conference to conference speaking to police officers, many who have become her friends, even though her teenage daughters were killed by one.

On the day after Thanksgiving 2007, teenage sisters Jessica and Kelli Uhl were hit head-on by an Illinois State trooper.

"He crossed the median at 126 miles an hour and literally drove through the top of Jessica's car, killing her and her sister at the scene," Schlau said.

The girls were killed by Trooper Matt Mitchell. He was answering an emergency call on Interstate 64, not far from St. Louis. Schlau says the call had actually been canceled, but Mitchell never got the message because he was on his personal cell phone while driving 126 miles an hour.

"The cell phone records show his cell phone was terminated just seconds prior to the first 9-1-1 call," Schlau said.

Schlau later learned the crash that killed her daughters was Mitchell's seventh in his five-year career. Schlau is on a mission to make sure it doesn't happen again.

She speaks to police officers around the country about the dangers of distracted driving.

"My message to them is, 'I understand you have a job to do and you have to do it safely,'" she said.

Schlau's speeches give her a chance to talk about her girls. Jessica was an outgoing 18-year-old who just began college. Kelli was 15 who loved animals and wanted to be a vet when she grew up.

"Every parent wants to talk about their children and show pictures and say how fabulous they were," Schlau said. "I get that opportunity and with that opportunity I get to save lives."

Schlau also spends time attending every legal hearing for trooper Matt Mitchell. He did plead guilty to a felony. Mitchell was given 30 months' probation and his driver's license was suspended. He is fighting to get it back. Schlau is fighting to prevent that.


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