A Year Later
First published: Nov. 21, 2008
Illinois State Police Trooper Matt Mitchell killed Jessica Uhl, 18, and Kelli Uhl, 13, when he drove 126 mph . Mitchell lost control of his cruiser and the vehicle jumped a median on I-64 and then slammed into the car occupied by the two Collinsville sisters. The sisters were on their way home from a family photo session. It was the day after Thanksgiving, Nov. 23, 2007. Jessica and Kelli died instantly.
A Picture of Love: Jessica, Kelli and their younger sister Maddy
Today: Kim Schlau shares her story at law enforcement conferences and academies. Contact Kim, click here.
November 18, 2009
• Opinion/Research Article: The Unwritten Policy
The Unwritten Policy provides links to news articles and editorials from newspapers & journals
• An interview with Larry G. Trent, director of the Illinois State
Police Changing Police Culture: One Agency at a Time
• Illinois Trooper Kills Two Teenage Sisters,
April 25, 2008 ... KSDK.com
• Opinion: If Only ...
by Kim Dorsey
Jessica and Kelli's Mother
Published: November 21, 2008
Jessica's last words to me were "I'm going to Jordan's." My last words to here were "Bye. Have fun, be young, drink Pepsi." She rolled her eyes, flashed me the peace sign. And she was gone.
Later Thanksgiving night, Maddy and I were watching Chicago in my bedroom. Kelli was upstairs, thumping around in Jessica's room to blow-dry and straighten her hair for the pictures the next day. Maddy was sending Kelli text messages on my phone, giggling at the responses. Kelli came downstairs, watched the Cell Block Tango scene, then said she was going to bed. I told her good night, and that her hair looked pretty.
I woke up early Friday morning to the sounds of Jessica and Kelli banging around in Jessica's room, which was above mine. I heard the two of them clatter down the stairs to go meet their dad for the family pictures. I didn't get up to say goodbye, I figured I'd talk to them when they got home.
I got up a little while later, and took my car to get my tire fixed. I came home, and turned on the TV. What Not to Wear was having a marathon, so I got sucked into that. I started getting out the Christmas decorations so we could start decorating when they got home that afternoon.
At 2:00 I started to wonder where they were. Jessica had to work at 3, so I expected them anytime. I figured they'd stopped by the mall for some after-Thanksgiving shopping.
At 2:30 I called her phone and left her a message. We'd had a bit of a tiff earlier in the week and I figured she was avoiding me, as a typical teenager would do.
At 3:30 I called Tan Rio but she wasn't there. They hadn't heard from her. I called her again, and left a message saying "call me please, I'm getting worried."
I called her dad and left him a message asking when they'd left.
At 4:00 I called again and told her to call me back, damn it.
At 4:45 Jordan called Kelli's phone. I ran upstairs to answer it, and he hadn't heard from them either. I told him to keep trying and once he got her to call me back.
At 5:15 the dogs started barking, and I went to the window expecting to see her car. I saw the police cars, the troopers with their serious faces, and the men in the green coroner's jackets.
The trooper asked if I owned a white Mazda 6 with license plate 147.... I interrupted, saying yes, I do, I don't know the plate number, what has happened?
He handed me Jessica's wallet, still intact, as if they'd just pulled it from her purse. He said there had been an accident.
He asked me who would have been in the car with her. I pointed to their pictures on my antique sewing machine and said "her sister, Kelli."
The look on his face told me they weren't coming back. Either of them.
I remember them asking if there was anyone they could call for me.
I remember telling Maddy that her sisters were dead.
I remember calling Mike, and him saying "I'm on my" and the phone disconnecting before he could say "way."
I remember calling my dad, and telling him. How his voice broke as he asked "both of them?"
I remember calling Lynn, telling her husband Brian, and her in the background screaming "NO! NO! NO!"
I remember feeling disconnected from myself, as if I was watching a movie.
I remember offering the troopers something to drink, and asking them to sit down. They were all very tall and I was feeling towered over.
I remember calling Jordan and telling him to come over. I hugged him and told him and held him as he cried.
I remember people coming over as the news spread. I remember getting sick of hearing the phone ring.
I remember the details of that day quite vividly. The days after are sometimes blurry, sometimes crystal clear.
I remember their laughs, their voices, the smell of their shampoo and perfume. I remember them as babies, as toddlers, graduating kindergarten, losing their teeth, growing up into beautiful young women. I remember bandaging scraped knees, putting the boo-boo bunny on bruises, nursing them through colic, upset tummies, earaches and broken hearts.
I look at their pictures every day and smile back, because I can't help it. They had such fabulous faces. Their pictures are on my desk at work, on my walls at home, on the shelves by the computer desk, in my room.
I miss them every day. My heart is healing, slowly. Time will help it heal, but I'll never be whole again.
Posted by Kim at 11:24 AM