Fayetteville, IL (KSDK) - A Fayetteville, Illinois couple hurt in a crash with a former Illinois State trooper finally sees some justice. The state of Illinois awarded the family $700,000.
Former Illinois State Trooper Matt Mitchell was speeding, on his cell phone and emailing when he killed two teenage sisters, then smashed into the Marler family car.
This has been an ordeal for the Marlers, and it took 14 months for the Court of Claims to deliver a verdict.
The $700,000 is for injuries and emotional anguish, much of it surrounding their unborn child.
Christine Marler was driving in the family's Pontiac Torrent with her husband, Kelly, and two children. They were driving west on Interstate 64 to pick up prenatal vitamins at the pharmacy. Christine was 8 months pregnant. That was in November 2007, when Mitchell took a call about a traffic accident.
On his way, court records show that Mitchell was driving in excess of 125 miles per hour while talking on his cell phone with his girlfriend, and sending and receiving emails on the computer in his patrol car.
Christine Marler told the court that Mitchell's patrol car "went through" the Uhl sisters' vehicle before hitting their car. Teenage sisters Jessica and Kelli Uhl, were killed instantly.
Christine was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
"She had no idea whether her unborn child was alive or dead," said the Marler's attorney, Troy Walton. "Even at the time of the hospital it took them an extended period of time to find a heartbeat."
Once the heartbeat was found, there were concerns whether their baby would have permanent problems from the trauma to Christine's body
"They were most concerned about her mangled leg and her knee," said Walton.
She eventually had surgery without a general anesthetic because of her pregnancy. Walton says Christine will continue to have problems with her knee, and her husband continues to suffer from his injury to his wrist, which is why the Illinois Court of Claims awarded the couple $700,000.
"There has to be a special legislation passed by the state of Illinois, before the Marlers will actually receive the verdict they've been awarded," said Walton.
They have to wait, but Walton says with everything the Marlers have gone through, state legislators are expected to approve the Special Awards Bill this coming spring, authorizing payment of their claim.
Mitchell pleaded guilty to reckless homicide in exchange for a sentence of 30 months probation.
According to the Marlers attorney, they are pleased that Mitchell's felony conviction means he will never be a law enforcement officer again.