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Man charged in fatal Lake Elmo crash can drive, judge rules

Judge John Hoffman said it would be "unreasonable" to restrict Samuel Wayne Hicks from driving if his driver's license is valid.

STILLWATER, Minn. - A truck driver from Wisconsin charged for his role in a fatal crash near Lake Elmo will be allowed to drive while out on bail, a judge ruled Friday.

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Authorities say Samuel Wayne Hicks was driving this semi when he fatally struck a motorist waiting at a stoplight near Lake Elmo. Hicks was allegedly lookig down at his smart phone at the time of the crash.

Samuel Wayne Hicks of Independence, WI, is charged in Washington County with criminal vehicular homicide in the crash which took place shortly after noon on Tuesday on Highway 36 and Lake Elmo Avenue.

First responders arrived at the scene to find a small purple passenger car so badly mangled they couldn't even determine the model. The driver, 54-year-old Robert Bursik of Amery, Wisconsin, died at the scene.

Credit: Mary Divine - Pioneer Press
A truck driver has been charged for allegedly using his cell phone in the moments before a fatal crash near Lake Elmo Tuesday.

A criminal complaint filed against the 28-year-old Hicks says he admitted to holding his cell phone in his right hand while driving down Highway 36 at 55 to 60 mph and texting back and forth with his girlfriend before the crash.

Investigators reviewed video from a system inside the defendant's truck. They say tape shows Hicks looking down at his phone for a full 8 seconds before striking Bursik's vehicle at 63 miles per hour.

Hicks, the father of two young children, requested to drive not as a trucker, but so that he can work in a warehouse for the duration of the case. Judge John Hoffman said it would be “unreasonable” to restrict Hicks from driving if his driver’s license is valid.

Bail was set at $20,000 with conditions on Friday. Hicks' next court date is April 19.

If convicted, Hicks faces the possibility of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

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