It’s been 9 months since Justine Charland-St-Amour was run over and killed by a truck, but her parents are moving further away from any sense of justice.
The 24 year old Montreal woman was hit and killed by a container truck at a busy intersection in Rosemont, just a few blocks from her home last August. The truck driver knocked the cyclist off her bike, causing fatal head injuries. But despite ignoring a “local deliveries only” sign, the driver was never charged. And a coroner ruled it an accident.
“I’m not saying throw him in jail, but the driver is dangerous,” said Justine’s stepfather Bernard. “He should at least lose his licence for six months.”
Justine’s mother is also outraged that the coroner focused on the fact that her daughter wasn’t wearing a helmet rather than condemning the driver for not obeying the rules of the road.
“It’s not the bike that killed her; it’s the driver who didn’t do what he was supposed to have done,” Martine Charland said. “The driver didn’t receive any form of punishment.”
Global News has translated both interviews from the original French.
PHOTO GALLERY: Ghost Bike Ceremony honours memory of Justine Charland St-Amour
The outrage felt by Justine’s parents is not unique.
Cars and trucks killed 63 pedestrians and eight cyclists on Quebec roads in 2016. But the gravity of this carnage does not appear to be reflected by the judicial system. Despite stricter penalties recently added to Quebec’s highway safety code, cycling groups and victims’ families argue the punishments handed down to drivers rarely match the crime.
“They say that if you want to kill someone you just get into your car and make sure they’re on the bicycle and you can kill without any problem,” Ghost Bikes Montreal’s founder Gabrielle Anctil said. “That’s the sad result of this whole problem that we’re not addressing.”
The group has installed five white bikes across the city, marking the locations where cyclists have lost their lives since 2014. The goal is to highlight the lack of concrete consequences for drivers who kill cyclists while reminding drivers to be careful.
“No one wants to kill anyone but some people have more chances,” Anctil said. “Driving motorized vehicles is more dangerous than let’s say walking down the street so maybe just think of the responsibilities that you have when you’re behind the wheel.”
Trudi Mason of Lethbridge, Alta. was cycling with her best friend when a truck hit the both of them. Mason’s friend died. Mason says the court process ignores the fact a person was killed.
The husband of a pedestrian who was hit and killed on Parc Avenue in January shares the anger of Charland St-Amour’s family. His wife Concepcion Cortecans died after being hit by a driver who ran a red light while looking at his phone. The coroner also called it an accident.
WATCH: Family and friends gathered in Rosemont Friday morning in honour of Justine Charland St-Amour. The cyclist was killed last month at the corner of d’Iberville Street and Rosemont Boulevard. A ghost bike now marks the spot where she died.
“He was let go half an hour after the event with his drivers license to continue without any penalty. And that is wrong and anyone can see this policy is protecting reckless drivers,” Andre Benyamin said.
Ghost shoes were set up near the site of the accident in January and despite calls to make the intersection safer for pedestrians, nothing has changed. Cortecans’ husband told Global News he will never feel at peace until the driver is held accountable.
“He has caused death and destroyed my life and many close relatives and friends and it’s painful not to see any penalty or any apology, any kind of repercussion,” Benyamin said.
Quebec’s justice and public security ministers would not speak to Global News about the issue.
Global News sought out responses from 8 of 10 provincial governments regarding whether the justice system fairly deals with people who kill with their cars. Three ministers agreed to do an on camera interview.
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