SEMINOLE COUNTY, Okla. – Newly released Dash cam video shows the final moments of an Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper’s life.
Trooper Keith Burch was also seriously injured in the crash.
“As far as describing the scene or the video, there are no words for it,” said Lt. John Vincent, with the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
Lt. Vincent has seen the 25 minute long dash-cam video all the way through the fatal crash.
“It’s one that I wish I wouldn’t have had to have watched,” Lt. Vincent said.
It starts out with Trooper Keith Burch pulling up to the scene of an overturned semi on I-40.
Seconds later, Trooper Nicholas Dees and a deputy arrive at the scene to provide backup.
Authorities say 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.
“You will see that traffic is moving along just like it’s supposed to,” Lt. Vincent said.
Authorities say that was until a car starts coming toward them.
You see both Burch and Dees react before the video cuts to black.
“The part where the trooper is struck and everything is taken out of there. It doesn’t need to be seen. This is a family member, a friend, this is a husband and a father,” Lt. Vincent said.
Next, you see a car smashed against the wrecked semi and the panic starts setting in.
The driver of the car, 29-year-old Steven Clark, has been charged with first-degree manslaughter.
OHP officials also say a 4-month-old child was in the car with Clark at the time of the crash.
The child was placed in DHS custody until a family member could pick the child up.
According to court documents, Clark admitted to OHP investigators that 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.
Rep. Mike Christian says Oklahoma Highway Patrol Chief Rick Adams, Pontotoc County District Attorney Chris Ross and other sources have told him that Clark was updating his social media pages while driving.
This tragedy now serves as a reminder of the risks officers take every day.
“That’s one of our brothers that has been hurt and another one of our brothers that has been killed. It puts a very human aspect into what we do,” Lt. Vincent said.
Funds to help the families of Trooper Dees and Trooper Burch have been set up at the Department of Public Safety Federal Credit Union.