Driver who stopped for ducks just wanted to take them home

Emma Czornobaj, 25, charged with dangerous driving causing death

A young driver on trial in the deaths of two motorcyclists says she stopped her car on a highway to pick up several ducklings she intended to bring home.

Emma Czornobaj is delivering her version of events at her jury trial in Montreal.

Czornobaj is charged with two counts each of criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing the deaths of Andre Roy, 50, and his 16-year-old daughter, Jessie.

The court heard she was returning from housesitting for a boss south of Montreal in June 2010 when she happened on several ducklings on the side of a highway.

She says she pulled over as far as she could in the left lane, putting on her hazard lights and emergency brake.

Czornobaj testified that the highway wasn't busy and that she checked before stopping.

She said she was intending to pick up the ducklings and bring them home, but they moved away as she quickly tried to approach them.

As she returned toward her car, she watched a motorcycle slam into the back of her Honda Civic.

She cried as she recounted watching Jessie Roy fly through the air.

The entire scene unfolded in about 20 seconds, Czornobaj said.

"I just wanted to pick all these ducklings up and put them in my car,'' Czornobaj testified. "I know it was a mistake.''

A Crown witness testified that Andre Roy was likely going about 115 km/h at the moment he applied his brakes and managed to slow down to 105 km/h at the time of impact.

The speed limit on that stretch of highway is 90 km/h.

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  1. Mary posted on 06/11/2014 05:56 AM
    Just a few weeks ago on the service road heading south near Mont Tremblant (St. Jovite) there was a pick-up truck with a middle-aged guy who had pulled over to help a family of ducks across the highway 117. We pulled up behind him wondering why there was a traffic jam and saw the ducks. Everyone smiled and was on their way. This poor girl does it and unfortunately a guy speeding behind her didn't have time to stop. She shouldn't be condemned to prison for this.
  2. marguerite posted on 06/11/2014 09:15 AM
    I do not understand why this person is on trial. If she did indeed have her hazzard lights on and she had time to get out of her car and walk towards the ducks then the motorcycles were not right behind her and should have seen her. What happened to the rule that you are suppose to watch what is in front of you and be in control of your vehicle. It is sad that two people lost their lives but I believe this is an accident and nothing more.
    1. Dave posted on 06/11/2014 01:35 PM
      @marguerite @Marguerite: Are you kidding? She's on trial because she parked her car on a highway, thus creating a clearly dangerous, illegal and irresponsible situation for the safe flow of traffic.
      Putting on one's hazard lights after doing so is no excuse whatsoever -- that's like telling the court you sterilized the knife before stabbing someone, or that you poured a glass of water on a raging fire after you started it.
      The motorcyclist greatly contributed to this disaster by speeding -- he was doing about 30 kms/h OVER the limit at impact, experts say. And yes, had he been in control of his vehicle, he all but certainly could have avoided the crash.
      I hesitate to use the word "accident" here -- this is a case of two parties acting completely foolishly and irresponsibly on the road.
      This should never have happened.
  3. Paul posted on 06/11/2014 10:16 AM
    If she slammed on the brakes as a last minute reaction to avoid a sudden obstacle, that's understandable. If she deliberately stopped in the passing lane on a highway to pick up some cute little duckies to take home, she should have the book thrown at her for reckless endangerment of human lives and causing 2 human deaths. I have no pity for such stupid behaviour.
    1. Dave posted on 06/11/2014 01:41 PM
      @Paul Agreed, Paul. But I wouldn't throw the book at her.
      Both will be found responsible for the crash. But the motorcyclist was more to blame, as he was speeding by about 30 kms/h.
      You want to talk about "stupid behaviour?! Try this:
      Any cyclist or motorcyclist who speeds -- let alone so excessively and with a 16-year-old passenger, no less -- and is not fully prepared to stop for any eventuality that one can encounter on a public highway, is simply asking for trouble.
      It was not inevitable that he would hit her -- had he been driving safely, he'd surely be alive today.
  4. Tony posted on 06/11/2014 12:35 PM
    This occurred in the middle of the night, on a curved section of the road!! Anyone, coming around a bend at even highway speed, will not have enough time to react to avoid this accident!! Stopping even for a short time in such a location, is asking for trouble, imagine if it would have been a truck and a person was still in the car!! One has to be responsible for ones actions, especially when putting other peoples lives in danger!
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