Driver faces jail after fatal caused by duck rescue

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

A Quebec woman whose love for animals caused a fatal crash is facing 90 days in jail as well as other penalties.

Many CMG readers will remember the story of Emma Czornobaj; back in 2010, she stopped her car in the passing lane to help out some ducks who were trying to cross the road. A motorcyclist and his daughter (who was riding pillion) crashed into the back of her stationary vehicle and died.

A jury found Czornobaj guilty of criminal negligence causing death, and dangerous operation of a motor vehicle back in June. Her sentence was handed down Thursday; she will get 90 days in jail (to be served on weekends), as well as 240 hours of community service and a 10-year driving ban.

The sentence is sure to cause an uproar, as onlookers were quite divided; some thought her actions in saving the ducks were justifiable, or that the motorcyclist should have avoided her car. Others thought she should have received the sentence prosecutors asked for (nine months), or even more.


  1. Regardless of the opinions as to who is “right’ or “wrong” in this case, two people are dead. Stopping ones car in a highway travel lane is extremely dangerous under any circumstances; to do it to assist a few ducks is incredibly stupid. Biker Czornobaj’s rate of speed may have contributed to his death, and that of his daughter, but if the car driver used the even smallest amount of common sense, the “accident” would never have happened. I doubt if very many motorists, operating eiher cars or bikes, expect a passing lane to be blocked by a parked car. I don’t know how Canadian law works, and I can only hope that Mr. Czornobaj’s estate has some recourse under a civil action, and wins a huge monetary award.

    • Quebec law matters here (It’s always a provincial matter in Canada).
      It’s a no-fault province, so no lawsuit possible.
      The widow/mother of the deceased has received a fixed payout from the provincial government.

  2. Some people want to defend her because we should be in control of our vehicles at all times. You could use the same excuse if someone moves into your lane while texting, you should be prepared for it so it’s not their fault. If it had been a highway tractor coming around the corner the young lady would have died and it would have still been her fault.

  3. “In earlier testimony from Roy’s wife, she said she thought he was riding around 85 kph at the time of the crash, but [ QPP Officer] Beaudet estimated the Harley–Davidson’s speed between 113 and 129 kph, slowing down to 105 and 121 kph before impact.” CP story by Sidhartha Banerjee

    Who does that with their daughter on the back? The rider only managed to slow 8kph before the impact. To me, that says he was very close when he pulled into the left lane. How was the vehicle parked in the road not seen by him? Seems common sense was lacking in a few spots

    • Paolo he was behind a vehicle that obstructed he view and I believe the car was parked in a curve in the road further obstructing it.

      • Ok … obstructed by a vehicle in front of him and in a curve. Understood. Why change lanes then? I’m surmising here a bit but having seen traffic behavior in obstructed/debris in lane situations many times like we all have, I would guess there were brake lights all over the place or at least traffic slowing dramatically in the area. Why change lanes when; 1. you can’t see the potential hazard due to obstruction., 2. you can’t ascertain your projected path is clear ?

        I’m not defending Ms Czornobaj at all. Her. actions caused 2 needless deaths .The sentence is fine. I won’t give the Mr Roy a free pass though. His reckless/careless riding was to blame as well.

        • That possibility notwithstanding, the point remains that you don’t stop a vehicle in the travelled portion of the roadway. Had she not done that, none of this would’ve occurred…

        • Paolo — every assumption you’ve made about this crash is wrong.

          Nobody pulled into the left lane — The riders were travelling in the left lane.
          Czornobaj went around a curve, parked her car, got out and started dancing with ducks, and about 30 seconds later 2 cars swerved and the riders hit.
          Both drivers and the surviving rider said they were distracted by Czornobaj’s antics.

          There was very little other traffic, so no chance for other drivers to slow down or provide some sort of warning.

  4. I hope she is exonerated at appeal. Regardless of whether it is a motorcycle or a car, you have to be in control at all times. That’s what I was taught when I got my drivers license in 1964.

    • The Highway Traffic Act states that it is illegal to stop a vehicle in the travelled portion of the roadway. At your age you should have some common sense.

  5. Jail time: Good. 10 year driving ban: Good.

    It won’t change the attitudes of the truly stupid, but hopefully it sends a message to anyone with half a brain that motorcyclists are NOT lesser forms of life who can be killed with impunity.

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