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Fallen trooper’s mother speaks to Oklahoma students about distracted driving

MIDWEST CITY, Okla. - The mother of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper, who died in 2015 when he was hit by a distracted driver, spoke to Midwest City High School seniors about the dangers of using a phone will driving.

In 2015, Trooper Nicolas Dees was killed on impact when a car hit him along I-40 and Trooper Keith Burch was injured in the crash.

Trooper Nicholas Dees - Left, Trooper Keith Burch - Right, Source: OHP

Authorities said troopers were at the scene of an overturned semi-truck on I-40.

“It was an overturned semi. He and his partner were working it,” said Shelley Russell, Dees’ mom.

Officials said Burch parked to protect oncoming traffic from hitting the wrecked semi-truck.

On the back of his unit, he placed a yellow flashing light instructing drivers to move over into the next lane.

Traffic was following the directions until Steven Clark’s vehicle didn’t switch lanes and slammed into the troopers.

According to court documents, Clark admitted to OHP investigators he saw the troopers’ flashing emergency lights but didn’t slow down.

Instead of merging to the right lane to go around the crash and the trooper’s car, he drove right toward it.

Clark admitted he was using his cell phone seconds before the crash.

He was charged with first-degree manslaughter.

After her son's death, Dees' mom has made it her mission to visit area schools and churches to encourage people to put their phones away when they're behind the wheel.

“Losing my only son, it's just changed my life. It's changed my personality. Half of me died that night,” Russell said.

Through the heartache and pain, Russell is committed to a mission.

“I decided to put a presentation together on the dangers of texting and driving, how it has impacted his mom, you know, a mom,” Russell said.

Russell travels around the state, speaking to groups about the true impact of distraction.

She shared her presentation with Midwest City High School seniors on Thursday.

Texting and driving is now illegal in Oklahoma, but Russell wants to see even more done.

“Senator Sharp had proposed a bill, but it didn't get out of committee, to do a ban on handheld devices in a vehicle while it's moving,” Russell said.

It's a law that is in effect in 13 other states.

While Russell hopes for changes to the law, she said she will continue to do her part to warn others.

“If I can just save one life and one mom at every presentation I go to, then my son's death was not in vain,” Russell said.