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A charge of criminal vehicular homicide was filed against a semi-truck driver who rear-ended a car stopped at a red light on Highway 36 in Minnesota’s Washington County, killing the car’s driver.

According to KSTP-TV, the charges allege that the semi-truck driver was looking at his cellphone for 8 seconds before Tuesday’s collision. His eastbound truck slammed into the back of a 2015 Toyota Scion XB stopped at Lake Elmo Avenue shortly after noon.

The semi truck – driven by Samuel Hicks, 28, of Independence, WI – did not brake as it struck the Toyota Scion while traveling at 63 mph. KSTP reported that investigators watched footage from rear- and front-facing cameras in the semi-truck’s cab.

Initially, Hicks allegedly told investigators that he observed a green light at Lake Elmo Avenue from a distance. But then he said he became distracted by another vehicle.

After further questioning, Hicks admitted he was texting with his girlfriend and using the Zillow real estate app to look up information about a house.

Hicks was charged with criminal vehicular homicide (click on image to enlarge). He wasn’t immediately in custody.

criminal vehicular homicide

Criminal vehicular homicide was charged against a semi-truck driver who rear-ended a car stopped at a red light on Minnesota Highway 36, killing the car’s driver.

Criminal vehicular homicide:
Wisconsin business owner killed

The driver of the Toyota Scion was identified as Robert J. Bursik, 54, of Amery, WI.

Bursik was the owner and founder of Dragonfly Gardens, a nursery and greenhouse with Wisconsin locations in Amery and Turtle Lake. The business specializes in native plants, wetlands, forest wildflowers, annuals, perennials, herbs, and vegetables.

Bursik is survived by his wife, Jessica, and three children.

Visitation will be from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Williamson-White Funeral Home in Amery. There also will be a celebration of Bursik’s life at Dragonfly Gardens this summer.

Criminal vehicular homicide:
Distracted driving all too common

An editorial published Wednesday by the Duluth News-Tribune states that approximately 421,000 people are hurt in the United States yearly in crashes involving distracted drivers. About 330,000 of those injuries are a result of texting and driving.

The editorial went on to say that 11 teenagers die in the U.S. daily from texting and driving. Twenty-one percent of teen drivers in fatal accidents were on their cellphones. (The editorial credited those statistics to AAA and other sources.)

In Minnesota, according to the state Department of Public Safety, distracted driving accounts for 25 percent – one out of every four – motor vehicle deaths.