Quebec driver on trial after stopping to help family of ducks
MONTREAL – Emma Czornobaj is receiving a lot of attention this week – and a lot of protection from her family.
She’s accused of driving her vehicle in a reckless manner nearly four years ago.
Her highly-anticipated trial kicked off Tuesday at the Montreal Courthouse.
It’s a case that does not involve alcohol or drugs, but ducks instead.
On a Sunday evening in June 2010, Czornobaj was allegedly driving on the left lane of Highway 30 near Candiac. Police say Czornobaj noticed a family of ducks and allegedly came to a full stop on the roadway. With her vehicle still parked in the left lane, the now 25-year-old reportedly stepped out to help the animals. Moments later, a motorcycle carrying a father and daughter slammed into the car.
Andre Roy, 50, and his 16-year-old daughter Jessie were killed.
Pauline Volikakis, Andre Roy’s wife and Jessie’s mother, testified on the first day of the trial.
Volikakis, who was riding a second motorcycle behind her husband and daughter, told the jury she saw the entire incident unfold.
Choking back tears, she described seeing her daughter “fly through the air” and fall to her death.
“How can I say that? Pauline is still very affected. We’re all affected,” said Pauline’s father Antonios Volikakis.
“We’ve been waiting many years. We’re waiting to pass at court.”
A second eyewitness also took the stand Tuesday.
Martine Tessier told the court she narrowly avoided Czornobaj’s car that day.
She testified the vehicle in question did not have its hazard lights on.
Emma Czornobaj is facing four charges: two counts of criminal negligence causing death and two counts of dangerous driving causing death.
If convicted of all of the counts, she faces up to life in prison.
Defence attorney Marc Labelle has described the incident as an “unfortunate accident.”
In her opening statement to the court, prosecutor Annie-Sophie Chasse told the jury the young woman showed a reckless disregard for the safety of others.
“Ask yourself this question, would a reasonable or prudent person have done the same thing? To save some ducks?” Chasse asked the court.
The trial is scheduled to last three weeks.
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