Truck driver pleads guilty to fatal Lake Elmo crash

Samuel Hicks

A semitrailer driver involved in a fatal crash last year in Lake Elmo pleaded guilty April 8 in Washington County District Court to criminal vehicular homicide. 

Samuel Hicks, 29, will serve a year in jail, then be on probation for 10 more years, during which time he will participate in public service announcements and community outreach regarding distracted driving. 

On Feb. 27, 2018, Hicks, driving a Freightliner semi, hit a Toyota Scion sitting at a red light at the intersection of Highway 36 and Lake Elmo Avenue, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. 

Inside the Scion was 54-year-old Robert Bursik of Amery, Wisconsin, who was killed. Hicks said he was texting at the time of crash.  

According to court documents, Hicks initially told police that he saw that the traffic light was green, but was distracted by another vehicle and when he looked back he struck Bursik’s vehicle. After further questioning, he admitted that he had his cell phone in his hand and had been texting his girlfriend and looking at a house on Zillow. 

Police watched footage from cameras installed on the semitrailer and allegedly saw Hicks looking down at his phone for eight seconds before the crash, the complaint said, alleging that Hicks made no effort to brake before crashing into the Scion at 63 miles per hour. 

Video footage also confirmed that the Scion was at a complete stop with its brake lights clearly illuminated, and the traffic light was red.

Bursik’s vehicle was so crushed by the impact that when officers arrived on the scene about 12:15 p.m., they were unable to determine the make or model of it, court documents say, noting that the Scion’s rear end was pushed in almost up to the driver’s side door.

Hicks’ sentencing is scheduled for July.


—Solomon Gustavo

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