Trial update: Cops say human error caused fatal crash

Quebec speeding ticket cost
Quebec's speeding fines were easy to figure out from their provincial website. Photo: Wikipedia


According to the Canadian Press, police witnesses at a car driver’s trial over a fatal collision say human error was the reason behind the crash.

Emma Czornobaj is on trial in Montreal over a 2010 crash that killed 50-year-old Andre Roy and his 16-year-old daughter Jessica (who was riding pillion). Witnesses state Czornobaj stopped her car in the left lane on the highway to help baby ducks cross the road. Some witnesses state Czornobaj did not turn on her hazard lights, a claim Czornobaj denies. She’s now on trial for criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving causing death

The CP story by Sidhartha Banerjee quotes Quebec provincial police officer Samuel Beaudet as saying the collision was caused by a human factor, when Czornobaj parked her car and got out.

“The driver of the Harley-Davidson (Roy) was surprised by the presence of the Honda in the left lane and was not able to come to a complete stop or take evasive action to avoid a collision,” the CP quotes Beaudet as saying.

In earlier testimony from Roy’s wife, she said she thought he was riding around 85 kph at the time of the crash, but Beaudet estimated the Harley–Davidson’s speed between 113 and 129 kph, slowing down to 105 and 121 kph before impact.

The CP story also notes Beaudet’s testimony about the Roy’s helmets. At first, the officer said the helmets did not meet safety standards, but then said a visual examination showed the lids did meet safety standards, and did not contribute to their deaths.

The Crown is expected to end its arguments today.

Samuel Beaudet.
Samuel Beaudet.


  1. GearDrivenCam: You say in your original post, “…my opinion is that most of the fault lies with the motorcyclist…”. Then, in your second post, “…the car should not have been there stopped in the first place…”. Please, help me reconcile your two divergent opinions. As far as your example of school busses stopped on the road, one is very unlikely to find one stopped in the passing lane on a major highway. So, addressing my ad hominem argument…if the shoe fits.

    • There was no contradiction. I think both are to blame. It’s a simple as that. If you are unable to understand my more specific points (including what an ad hominem argument is) – that’s fine. You don’t have to. I’ve made my points.

      • Gee, I was hoping for a more intelligent response. And I do understand what an ad hominem argument is – you clearly missed that part. 🙂

  2. Geardrivencam: What kind of idiot are you? The lady parked her car in the passing lane of a highway. She was not in an accident. She did not have a breakdown or a flat tire. She was helping ducks cross the road. To paraphrase a police witness, “Ducks do not constitute an emergency”. You say “Drivers do stupid things all the time”. You are correct – and some of them are charged for their criminal stupidity.

    • I’m the kind of idiot that doesn’t have to resort to ad hominem arguments to make a point. And I’m not saying that the woman shouldn’t be charged. She should be. What I’m saying is people do stupid things on the road all the time. And they should be charged. But you can’t control what other people will do and when they do it. You may be in the right – but it’s a dubious moral victory when you still end up dead. People are going to do stupid things that break the law and put your life at risk. So you must look out for yourself and others, be aware, ride with caution – ride safely and within your limits. From the evidence, it appears the motorcyclist should have been able to avoid this collision. By putting full blame on the motorist – one simply ignores the fact that the motorcyclist should have been better prepared for this situation. The motorcyclist was speeding and apparently didn’t notice a car in their lane until they were virtually upon it? That sounds very careless to me based on the evidence presented. Not the kind of person I’d wish to ride with. Granted – the car should not have been there stopped in the first place. That’s inexcusable. But once again – these things happen, as terrible as they are. And it doesn’t mean that the collision was unavoidable. You must ensure the way is clear when you overtake another vehicle. You need to look far, far ahead. Be aware of your surroundings. I think part of the issue here is that you seem to be focused on blame. I’m more focused on how both parties contributed to this terrible tragedy and how it could have been avoided. From a fatality perspective – it doesn’t matter whether she had experienced a break-down or a flat tire, was bird-watching, stopped to let ducks cross, or stopped to avoid a collision with a moose. They all involve a hazard on the highway. Likewise – If you drive around a curve in the road and suddenly see cars stopped on the highway in both directions for a school bus – you must be prepared to be able to stop. Whether it’s for a school bus or an animal lover directing ducks – the requirement is the same. One is legitimate, the other is not. Either way – this collision should not have happened.

      • I think you’re making a very valid point here. Many riders think their legal right-of-way gives them the right to ride as fast as they want on the street, under the assumption that nobody will interfere (except maybe traffic cops). But that’s just not the case. In the real world, stuff happens quicker than you can blink, and if you’re not able to slow down or otherwise avoid trouble, you might be signing on the dotted line with your life. Your school bus example is perfect – sometimes that stuff does happen, whether people think of it or not. Or maybe someone’s pulling out of a hidden driveway, or there’s a dog who likes chasing vehicles. You can’t control that stuff, you can only control yourself, and you can be dead right and still be dead.

        In this case, I would suspect the rider probably lost some braking power because of his passenger, on a bike that might not have been the quickest-braking machine to start with. That probably didn’t help.

  3. As a MC rider I have encountered many situations where other driver are doing dangerous things on the road.
    Riders should know that there will always be a danger wherever they ride. Knowing this we should all be ready to avoid these situations. I believe the man should have been able to avoid hitting this parked car if he wasn’t speeding, wasn’t driving in the passing lane and if he was looking ahead for trouble. He should have been able to at least change lanes. His wife ridding behind him managed to avoid hitting anything. The young woman should not have stopped her car but I feel she should not have to take full responsability for his death. If her car had simply stalled there would be no trial.

    • As much as I’ll defend a motorcyclist until I’m blue in the face if I feel they were in the right – I have to admit that I’m completely in agreement with Jack here. Granted – the individual should NOT have parked her car in the passing lane on the highway. She should share at least some of the blame. However, as a motorcyclist – I can’t control what other drivers do, I can’t control environmental variables, and I can’t control unforeseen circumstances. Drivers do stupid things all of the time. I have to anticipate these things and have an alternate course of action already planned out. Whether they were right or not is irrelevant, as I will invariably lose when both of us collide. All I can do is ride as smartly and as safely as I’m able to, and do my best to expect the unexpected. Judging from the evidence presented here – it appears that the motorcyclist hardly even slowed down before the collision. How much riding experience did he have? How far in the distance was he looking? Did he suddenly pull out to pass without checking to see if the lane was clear? Was it foggy or was visibility otherwise compromised? In this case – the motorcyclist failed to execute the pass safely, and unfortunately, both him and his passenger died as a result. It’s very sad. But based on the evidence presented, my opinion is that most of the fault lies with the motorcyclist in this instance.

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