Schlau speaks to PSA about daughter’s’ deaths

Just before Thanksgiving, the Political Science Association (PSA) hosted an event that touched on a subject that has been in the headlines in central Illinois for several years. Kim Schlau, a representative of two organizations, Pursuit Safety and Focus Driven, spoke on the deaths of two of her daughters.

PSA asked Schlau to speak at SIUE about the dangers of driving while distracted. Schlau gave an emotional appeal to more than 20 students.

Kim Schlau speaks to SIUE's Policial Science Association and other students about the dangers of distracted driving.

Schlau’s daughter’s, Jessica and Kelly Uhl, were killed in an accident with an Illinois State police officer. Jessica was a 18-year-old freshman at SIUE’s School of Business majoring in marketing and public relations and Kelly was a 13-year-old 8th grader in Collinsville Middle School.

Schlau said that the trooper was responding to an accident that was already secured but that the trooper had not called into the dispatcher to clarify the importance of the call.

“He proceeded down to the turn around and came back, picking up speed as he went, going 126 miles per hour. This is the day after Thanksgiving. Those of you who are familiar with this area know the mall is there; Target is there; Walmart is there. It’s a very busy highway–four lanes, two on each side–and he was traveling 126 miles an hour, weaving in and out of traffic to get to this call,” said Schlau.

Schlau stated that at that time of the day, the trooper was doing more than double the speed of the other vehicles on the road. Schlau also stated that, in addition to speeding through the traffic, the trooper was talking on his cell phone and using his computer as well.

“As he was going, he was emailing another  trooper to find out where he’s headed in Mascoutah. Here is the interchange by 158 and I-64. He crossed the median, went airborne and crashed into my daughter’s car,” said Schlau. “At the trial, he testified that he conducted a four-minute telephone conversation with his girlfriend about a bicycle that she had bought at the day after Thanksgiving sales, while traveling at 126 mph, while on his on-board computer emailing the other trooper,” said Schlau.

Schlau said that at the trial, the phone records show that the trooper hung up his phone mere seconds before the accident that killed her daughters. She stated that his patrol car hit her daughter’s car so hard it knocked it 60 yards backwards with the patrol car coming to a rest even further down the road from where the impact occurred.

“I’ve had a lot of experience now speaking to police cadets and in-service officers. When they hear this, they come up to me afterwards and say, we are so sorry,” said Schlau. “What I do now, as part of my healing process, is I go and I tell this story. I tell this story to police cadets, in hopes that seeing these pictures will make them think before they get behind the wheel and decide to just drive like they have absolutely no responsibilities. I also talk to in-service officers because there is a culture in police officers that you have to get there, no matter what.”

Schlau shows where the accident that claimed the lives of her daughters occurred.

Schlau maintains a blog as a memorial for her daughters and to inform those who are interested in the changes in the laws concerning distracted driving.

“I try to make the world a better place, by talking to the officers and try to make sure it doesn’t happen to someone else, by talking to classes and saying, ‘when you’re in the car, hang up the phone. No text is worth your life,’” said Schlau.

Schlau said that she hopes to eventually take her message to high schools about the dangers of texting and driving.

“Usually, I conclude this, because I am speaking to police officers, I conclude this with, ‘When you’re out driving and you’re responding to a call or you’re doing a pursuit, please ask yourself, If my family was on this road in front of me would I continue driving the way I am?’” said Schlau. “I guess I can modify that for this class and say, ‘when you’re driving, think about what you’re doing behind the wheel. Whether it’s talking or texting, listening to the radio, changing the station, dropping your pen and trying to pick it up, think about it.’ The craziest things happen in just the blink of an eye. And, I don’t want this to happen to any of you.”


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