Distracted driver in deadly Hwy. 36 crash appears in public safety message

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety released a public service announcement video Thursday with the distracted driver who caused a 2018 crash on Highway 36 that claimed the life of another driver. 

The crash occurred on February 27, 2018. Sam Hicks was driving east on Highway 36 when his semi slammed into the back of 54-year-old Robert Bursik’s vehicle while he was stopped at a red light. Bursik was killed in the crash. 

At the time of the crash, Hicks was looking down at his phone at a text from his then-girlfriend about a house listing. Video footage from his semi showed he made no effort to break and hit Bursik’s vehicle at 63 miles per hour. 

"I play that moment in my head multiple times a day," Hicks said in the video. "There wasn’t anything I could do, I was out of control. From the time I looked down at my phone to the time that I looked up, eight seconds had passed. I never realized how far you travel in eight seconds." 

Hicks pleaded guilty last year to the deadly crash and was sentenced to one year in jail and 10 years of probation. As part of his sentence, he was also required to make a PSA with the Minnesota State Patrol about the dangers of distracted driving. 

The driver who caused a deadly crash on Highway 36 in 2018 has released a PSA with the Minnesota State Patrol on the dangers of distracted driving. (Minnesota Department of Public Safety / FOX 9)

Bursik was a husband and father of three at the time he died. Bursik’s wife and daughter are also featured in the video.