Widow speaks out against distracted driving after fatal Lake Elmo crash

Jess Bursik’s world was shattered last month when her husband was killed in a Lake Elmo crash. Now, she is speaking out hoping to save another family from her pain and heartache.

"It’s very overwhelming. He had a zest for life; he loved to live. He loved to wake up and do his 10 million tasks he had with a smile on his face,” she said. “My 7-year-old son, Ian, is not going to have a father to continue doing things that they love to do together, such as fishing, camping and watching the Bucks game.”

Two weeks ago, Rob Bursik was on his way home to Wisconsin from a Minneapolis hospital. The couple’s young son had a bad eye infection, so dad spent the night, then kissed his wife goodbye. Jess had no idea it would be their final farewell.

“That’s when I saw the vehicle, and it was devastating. I had no idea the extensiveness of the situation of the crash,” Jess said.

Prosecutors said Samuel Hicks was at the wheel of a semi, allegedly paying no attention to traffic on Highway 36.

He was going 63 mph, focused on his cell phone, looking down for a full eight seconds. Hicks apparently never saw Rob Bursik’s car at the stop light and there was no attempt to brake.

Authorities have said video cameras on the big rig captured the entire incident. Hicks is now charged with criminal vehicular homicide and is out of jail, having posted his bond.

Jess, meanwhile, had to explain it all to her son.

“When I initially told him the news, he started crying right away and asked when he’d be able to get another dad and that he wanted the semi driver to be in big trouble,” she said. “Since then, he’s been more comforting to me, holding my hand and hugging and telling me that it’s ok when I cry.”

Heartbroken and angry, Jess decided to speak out to make sure her husband’s death has meaning.

“It wasn’t just some ordinary man that was killed.”

She wants people to see Rob Bursik, to see her shattered world and to put down the phones.

It’s alleged that Samuel Hicks was texting with his girlfriend and checking out a house on a real estate site in the moments before the horrific crash.

“This is a message. My husband’s tragic death is going to be a message in a forward direction about texting and driving. He would have some comfort in that,” Jess said. “He would be proud that he was able to help with a cause that he believed so much in.”

Statement from Christina Dokos, Senior VP at Eby-Brown Company:

"Our deepest sympathies go out to the family of Robert Bursik during this time of incredible loss. We are fully cooperating with the authorities to research and understand the nature of this accident. We have no further comment at this time."