On Friday a 12-member jury in Quebec Superior Court found 25-year-old Emma Czornobaj guilty on two counts of criminal negligence in causing the deaths of two motorcyclists which can result in a maximum sentence of life; additionally, she was found guilty of two counts of dangerous driving causing death with a possible maximum sentence of 14 years.
Motorcyclist Andre Roy, 50, was riding his Harley-Davidson on Highway 30 near Candiac, Quebec on June 27, 2010; his 16-year-old daughter Jessie was riding as his passenger. According to witnesses, there were no road hazards, or obstructions, and it was a clear and sunny day. Pauline Volikakis was riding her own bike behind her husband and daughter and witnessed the entire unfortunate event.
Czornobaj had stopped her car in the left hand lane of the highway with no hazard lights on and gotten out of her vehicle to try to catch some ducklings. She told law enforcement that she didn’t see the mother duck and was concerned over the welfare of the ducklings.
Other witnesses were shocked and horrified that Czornobaj had parked her car in the fast passing lane with no warning lights and only her driver’s side door ajar. Czornobaj was on the side of the road vainly trying to catch the ducklings.
Martine Tessier testified in court that she noticed the car and Czornobaj gesturing to ducks. “I shouted to my children, ‘What is she doing there? She’s going to get killed,” said Tessier. “I then saw a body go over the car. It looked like a rag doll. I shouted to my daughter to call 911.”
Czornobaj, who had been a licensed driver for three years at the time of the wreck, claims to be an animal lover and had testified in court that her plan was to capture the ducklings and take them home.
As recently as April of this year Czornobaj had agreed to plead guilty but adamantly refused to serve any jail time. She wiped away tears as the verdict was read; sentencing will take place on August 8 and she was released until that time.
“What we hope is that a clear message is sent to society that we do not stop on the highway for animals,” said prosecutor Annie-Claude Chasse. “It’s not worth it.”