In 2010 Ms. Emma Czornobaj stopped her car in the inside lane of a provincial highway in a curve to help some ducks cross the road. Tragically Andre Roy and his daughter were leaving Montreal on their motorcycle when they came around the curve and slammed into the stopped car and died. Mrs. Roy was following her husband and saw her family die.
Ms. Czornobaj claimed that “It was just a reaction to what was on the road”. At the time of the original trial her lawyer argued that she shouldn’t serve jail time, and that the family’s hearts go out to the Roy family. An online petition also called for the Quebec justice minister to keep Ms. Czornobaj out of jail.
Ms. Czornobaj was found guilty of two counts of dangerous driving causing death, and two counts of criminal negligence causing death during her 2014 trial. The judge ordered her to serve 90 days in jail on the weekends, 240 hours of community work, three years’ probation, and banned her from driving for a period of 10 years.
On appeal, Ms. Czornobaj’s lawyer argued that according to the law her driving was not criminal and that the jury was not given adequate instruction from the presiding judge. The Quebec Court of Appeal rejected the appeal and upheld the sentence.
The case is a sad one all around, as Ms. Czornobaj was a young and inexperienced driver at the time who was likely simply doing what she thought was right by saving the ducks, and not giving thought to traffic behind her. The good that comes from this is that parents can hold this example up to their novice drivers. Stopping in a live lane of traffic is extremely dangerous, particularly on a major highway. The consequences of not thinking twice while driving can be deadly.