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Matt Mitchell asks for driver’s license to be reinstated

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MOUNT VERNON, IL (KTVI) – There were dramatic moments in a Mount Vernon, Illinois hearing room Tuesday morning as former Illinois State Police Trooper Matt Mitchell tried for a third time to get his suspended driver’s license back.

Mitchell caused a accident that killed Jessica Uhl, 18, and Kelli Uhl, 13, from Collinsville, Illinois.

Members of the Uhl family were also there trying to prevent Mitchell from getting his license restored.

Mitchell, 35, basically said nothing as he went into the hearing and as he left, but during the hearing it was a different story.

Mitchell told the hearing officer that he takes full responsibility for the day-after-Thanksgiving accident in 2007 that killed the Uhl sisters.

Mitchell, who was then an Illinois State Police Trooper, was on duty and was responding to another incident driving 126 miles per hour when he lost control of his cruiser on Interstate 64 near the Scott Air Force Base exit.

He crossed the center median and slammed into the Uhl sisters’ car. They both died at the scene. Another couple was injured.

Mitchell was on his cell phone and on the computer in his cruiser right before the crash.

Mitchell pleaded guilty to reckless homicide and aggravated reckless driving in a 2010 plea bargain. As part of that deal, his license was suspended for two years.

Tuesday was his third effort to try and get his license back. The other two have been denied.

Mitchell spoke directly to the Uhl family, saying he was sorry for the loss of Kelli and Jessica.

He says he needs a driver’s license so he can get a job and provide for his 10-year-old daughter.

“He’s done everything the secretary of state has asked. There’s a process in place. We’re following that process. He’s waited his time,” said Mitchell’s attorney Israel Slone from Belleville.

But the Uhl family told the hearing officer they do not want Mitchell to get his license back.

Kelli and Jessica’s mother, Kim Schlau, said she and her family have a life sentence of being denied their children because of Mitchell’s thoughtless and careless driving.

“It seems like he just seems to be going through the motions. He doesn’t understand the gravity of these hearings and what he needs to prove in order to get his driver’s license back,” explained Schlau.

She added, “We will continue to come up here. Every time he continues to appeal we’ll continue to come up here. We’ll continue to fight to make sure we are keeping other people safe.”

Mitchell also said in the hearing that he is not a “monster” just “an imperfect human being.”

He admitted to abusing alcohol in the past, but not now.

Mitchell told the hearing officer that he can be “a safe and responsible driver” and that if he could go back to that fateful day he “would have driven at a safer speed.”

Schlau said, "Some days I understand, ya know, it is hard to do things without it, but ya know, it just, I have to go back to thinking, I told my daughters that driving was a privilege, not a right.  If you abuse that privilege, you ought to be punished for it."

There was no final decision made Tuesday. A ruling could take 90 days.

Mitchell now lives in Killeen, Texas with family members and says he has no intentions of returning to Illinois.

Mitchell can appeal again if he is turned down.