The Illinois Court of Claims has awarded $8 million to the parents of two Collinsville sisters who were killed in an auto accident caused by an Illinois state trooper. Judge Peter J. Birnbaum's opinion in the wrongful death case stated that when the trooper drove his vehicle "at a speed of 126 mph he operated his vehicle in a manner that endangered life and/or property of the public." A news story from myfoxchicago.com indicates that the trooper was e-mailing and talking on his cell phone at the time of the accident.
On November 23, 2007 the sisters were driving on Interstate 64 near Fairview Heights on their way home from a photo shoot. The trooper lost control of his patrol car in heavy traffic and struck the girls' vehicle. The sisters were pronounced dead at the scene and two other passengers in their car were also injured. The trooper's legs were broken in the collision.
The article reports that this trooper had also been involved in two prior accidents: a 2003 crash which resulted in a $1.7 million judgment and a single-vehicle accident in 2002 in which there were no injuries. An attorney for the Court of Claims says that the $8 million in this case may be the largest award ever ordered in a tort claim against the state.
As a result of the accident in which the sisters were killed, the trooper pled guilty to two counts of reckless homicide in exchange for a sentence of 30 months probation. He subsequently resigned from his job as an Illinois state trooper.
Source: myfoxchicago.com, $8M For Parents of Girls Killed By State Trooper Who Was on His Phone, January 20, 2011