Father, daughter killed because woman stopped car to help ducks, prosecutor alleges
A young woman who stopped her car on a Quebec highway to help some ducks cross the road is now on trial, accused of causing an accident that killed a father and his teenage daughter.
A Montreal court heard Tuesday that Emma Czornobaj, now 25, stopped her car on Highway 30 four years ago to tend to a family of ducks that was attempting to cross the road.
Prosecutors allege that action led to the crash that killed Andre Roy, 50, and his daughter Jessie, 16. The pair was on a motorcycle that slammed into Czornobaj’s stopped car.
Czornobaj, who was 21 years old at the time of the June 2010 accident, has been charged with two counts each of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death.
Court heard that she allegedly stopped her car in the left lane of Highway 30 in Candiac, Que., without activating her hazard lights.
An eyewitness testified that she saw Czornobaj walking on the side of the highway to help the ducks cross. It was 7:30 p.m., the sun was going down and visibility was diminished, the witness said.
That’s when Roy came by on his motorcycle, with his teenage daughter sitting on the back. His wife, Pauline Volikakis, was behind them on another motorcycle.
Volikakis told court that she witnessed her husband and only child hit the back of Czornobaj’s car. She said she saw her daughter trapped under the car, with the engine still running.
Roy was pronounced dead at the scene. Jessie died in hospital.
Volikakis told court that her husband was not speeding, and was travelling at about 80 to 85 kilometres per hour.
Through tears, she said that right before the crash, Roy waved his hands at Czornobaj as if to warn her it was dangerous to be walking along the highway’s narrow shoulder.
The jury will have to decide whether stopping in the left lane to help the ducks cross the road amounts to criminal negligence causing death – a crime that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Czornobaj has pleaded not guilty. The trial continues Wednesday.
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Rob Lurie