The gymnasium at Bethel High School was silent Thursday as students watched a video about the dangers of distracted driving.

The gymnasium at Bethel High School was silent Thursday as students watched a video about the dangers of distracted driving.

On January 31, 2015, State Troopers Nicholas Dees and Keith Burch were investigating an accident on Interstate 40 east of Shawnee when a driver allegedly updating his Facebook page struck Dees and Burch.

Burch was transported to OU Medical Center in serious condition; Dees was pronounced dead on the scene. The driver was arrested a week later on charges of first-degree manslaughter. That driver is awaiting sentencing in Seminole County following a guilty plea.

Nick’s Promise was started in honor of Dees to educate students on the dangers of texting and driving.

“The guy that ran over Nick that day wasn’t a criminal before he left,” Barry Dees, brother of Nicholas Dees, said. “But now he’s a felon.”

Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Deputy William Wheeler, who was also on the scene of the accident that night and narrowly missed getting hit, said he does not tell this story for self-pity, but rather to spread this important message.

“Some people want to call this an accident,” Wheeler said. “But an accident is if I’m driving down the road and a deer comes out and I hit it. That’s an accident. If I make the conscious decision to get on my cell phone and decide that what’s going on on my phone is more important than what’s going on around me, that’s not an accident.”

Wheeler said that checking a text while driving is the equivalent to driving across a football field blindfolded.

“When you’re driving down the road, you’re not going to have a sign that pops up and says, ‘stop, you’re about to have a wreck, you’re about to kill somebody,’” Wheeler said.

Wheeler said there is no text or social media update that is worth the life of a driver or those around them.

“You are six times more likely to get killed by texting and driving than you are a drunk driver,” he said. “That’s how bad it is now; it’s taken over everything.”

Wheeler said they spread this message so no one has to experience their January 31.

“No one should have to go through that night,” he said. “No one should have to see the stuff that I saw and had to witness and hear because somebody was on their phone.”