‘Not shown any remorse’: Parents of Ontario girl killed by driver speak at sentencing

Click to play video: 'London, Ont., mourns death of 8-year-old girl struck by vehicle'
London, Ont., mourns death of 8-year-old girl struck by vehicle
DEC. 1, 2021 - A group of Girl Guides are among those recovering from injuries after a car stuck ten pedestrians in London. An eight-year-old girl died early Wednesday. Seán O’Shea reports. – Dec 1, 2021

A chorus of voices echoed, one after the other, that the perceived lack of remorse on behalf of the woman behind the wheel of an SUV that plowed through a group of Girl Guides has only made their suffering worse.

Victim impact statements were read into court Thursday in the sentencing of Petronella McNorgan, found guilty of criminal negligence causing death and criminal negligence causing bodily harm in the Nov. 30, 2021 crash in London, Ont.

Meanwhile, statements of support for McNorgan expressed hope for leniency and empathy in sentencing, stating that she would never intentionally hurt anyone and that she truly believed that she was hitting the brake and her vehicle had malfunctioned.

The then-76-year-old ran through an intersection, mounted a curb, struck a light post, struck a small tree, and then struck a group of pedestrians heading eastbound on the north side of Riverside Drive toward Wonderland Road.

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In all, 10 people were taken to hospital ranging in age from six to 40, including an eight-year-old girl who died.

Now, more than two years after the crash, those whose lives have been forever changed were given the opportunity to share their stories. The common theme throughout: the alleged absence of any apology.

“I waited for you to do something, anything to show you were sorry for the pain you caused,” one of the Girl Guide leaders on the scene of the crash told court.

“Nothing. Nothing at all to redeem you. And that is when I realized I had been a fool. Through all of this I kept faith that you were a better person than you are. I believed that you were hurt, and that’s why you didn’t come back to help us.”

A publication ban is in place to protect the identities of the children involved in the crash and their parents.

Another mother, who had dropped her daughter off for what she thought would be a fun evening event only to end up responding to her in hospital that night, said her daughter woke up in hospital screaming, “I hate you! I hate you!” and later asked, “Why did she hit us? The lady never even said she was sorry.”

The aunt of the girl who died said McNorgan looks similar to her late mother, but if her mother was in her shoes, she never would have put the impacted families through a trial. The aunt also said she learned that her niece was at the back of the group when she was struck.

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“That means you not only drove an insanely long distance,” she told court, addressing McNorgan directly, “but you hit a tree, a light pole and seven people before you killed my niece.”

The father of the eight-year-old struck dead told court that “the worst day of my life was the last day of (my daughter’s).”

The girl’s mother recalled that her daughter was identified by the cast she had been wearing on her arm, a cast she was excited to get removed the following day.

“My grief has been exacerbated by the fact that the defendant has not expressed any real remorse,” the deceased’s mother told court.

The father addressed McNorgan directly, saying, “You have not shown any remorse whatsoever” and that “this just makes the grieving process that much worse.”

“Do you ever take the time to think of the damage you did to all the people involved?”

Both parents were emotional while reading their statements, pausing to slow their breathing and read through tears.

The mother had dropped her off to meet up with other Girl Guides, she said. “My last memory of her alive was watching her walk in circles around one of the poles as she waited for close friends to arrive.”

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She said she drove east across Wonderland Road to visit a friend for an hour before returning to pick up her daughter, at which point she “experienced a feeling of impending doom.”

The little girl’s father said he wakes up most nights with nightmares, usually involving him arriving at the scene of the crash just before his daughter got hit and being unable to save her.

“Mommy still reads to you every night and I listen from our room,” he said in a portion of his statement where he addressed his daughter directly, adding that it’s still very painful for him to go into her room.

He said the family still hasn’t done their daughter’s laundry. Because it still smells like her, “we can’t bear to do anything with it right now.”

The victim statements also touched on the lasting personal impacts of the crash, with many highlighting the physical, emotional, relational and financial hardships they continue to struggle with.

Many of the statements discussed issues with sleep, anxiety and irritability. Some brought up the costs of ongoing therapies, parking, time off work and in some cases, an inability to return to the work they once did. Several parents mentioned deteriorating relationships and how stress has negatively impacted their marriages. A few even implied that they had dealt with suicidal ideation.

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Parents described the pain of watching their children suffer emotionally, seeing the way the trauma of the crash has impacted their sense of security.

One woman, who was among the adults hit by the vehicle, required life-saving interventions and suffered a serious pelvic injury that will impact her the rest of her life.

“I am now a mother of two young children with whom I will never enjoy bike rides,” she gave as an example.

A teenager, who was 14 at the time of the crash and was assisting with the younger Girl Guides, said her friends are all getting driver’s licences now while she tries to manage her panic attacks.

Late in the afternoon, the defence had the opportunity to read letters of support for McNorgan.

Family, friends and loved ones described her as helpful, trustworthy and dependable and many requested “leniency” and “empathy” in her sentencing.

Others wrote that she is no threat to society and that she would “never, ever intentionally harm another human being.”

One individual noted that while McNorgan may not show a lot of emotion outwardly, she feels deeply, while others described her as being devastated by the crash.

The sentencing hearing will resume Friday morning.


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