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Woman stopped for ducks: Life sentence, Woman helped ducks but killed two people

A woman who stopped her car on a busy highway to allow a family of ducks to cross has been sentenced to life in prison. The driver, 25-year-old Canadian woman Emma Czornobaj, stopped her vehicle on a Montreal-area highway in 2010 in order to assist a group of ducklings who had waddled out into traffic. Nearly four years later, Czornobaj has now been found guilty of criminal negligence – causing the deaths of two individuals riding on a motorcycle who crashed into her parked vehicle.

Woman stopped for ducks: Life sentence for woman who helped ducks but killed two people
Wikimedia Commons / Ducklings

Reports the USA Today: “The jury was unanimous in convicting the 25-year-old on two counts of criminal negligence causing death, a charge that carries a maximum life sentence, and two counts of dangerous driving causing death, which comes with a maximum of 14 years in jail.”

Killed in the crash were 50-year-old Andre Roy and his 16-year-old daughter Jessie Roy, who was riding on the back of the Harley-Davidson motorcycle with her father. Czornobaj stopped her car, in the left lane, got out, and was trying to herd seven baby ducks over to her when Roy and his daughter, not expecting to come up on a parked car in the left lane, slammed into the back.

Per USA Today:

His wife was following behind them at a slower speed and avoided injury, and has said she doesn't blame Czornobaj for the deaths; her husband died in her arms, and her daughter, who was pinned beneath the Honda Civic, died later in a hospital.

“A self-proclaimed animal lover, Czornobaj said that she didn’t see a mother duck when she spotted the seven ducklings in the median,” the Inquisitr reports. “She stopped her car in the left lane and got out, trying to herd the baby ducks so that they wouldn’t get run over,” the site said.

Czornobaj later said in court that she had planned to adopt the ducks. Roy was determined to be speeding, traveling approximately 10 to 20 miles per hour over the posted limit of 60, and while his speed may have contributed to their deaths, the jury still found Czornobaj criminally negligence under Canadian law and sentenced her to life in prison.

Defense lawyer Marc Labelle said he and Czornobaj are shocked by the decision of the jury, but added that he believes his client will escape jail time on appeals. “The fact that she was involved in the accident in the first place was a hard experience for her,” Labelle said. “The fact that she had to go through a trial with a lot of publicity was tough and to be confirmed by 12 citizens, the jury, that the conduct was criminal is a hard blow.”

Prosecutor Annie-Claude Chasse said the message from the jury to motorists is clear: It’s “not worth it” to stop on a busy highway – any road for that matter – to assist an animal unless the car is able to be pulled over well onto the shoulder.

What are your thoughts on this story? Have you ever seen a motorist endangering themselves and others while trying to assist an animal on the road? Sound off below.

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