A person in Canada was recently convicted by a jury on two counts of criminal negligence causing death, a charge that carries a maximum life sentence, and two counts of dangerous driving causing death, which comes with a maximum of 14 years in jail. I don’t know what the equivalent is in American years.
- The defendant was not Toronto Mayor Rob Ford (right, in a reflective moment).
- The driver was not drunk or high.
You may be wondering how a driver can manage to commit such egregious driving-related crimes while sober. Was the driver, a woman named Emma Czornobaj (pronounced “EM-ma”), speaking on a cell phone, maybe even in French?
Was she texting or putting on makeup? Was she smoking a cigarette when an ember fell to her lap causing her to frantically slap her thighs? Was she one-handing a Big Mac® and distracted by oozing special sauce?
No, dear reader, none of those is true. In fact, Ms. Czornobaj’s vehicle was not even moving at the time of the incident.
Now you’re intrigued. right? You weren’t expecting a mystery post, were you?
To deepen the enigma, I will tell you that no weapon of any kind was involved. Ms. Czornobaj was not firing an AK-47 randomly at passing cars; she was not tossing Ninja Stars onto the highway causing tires to blow out and cars to go careening into each other; she was not launching hockey pucks with a custom-made, trunk-mounted trebuchet. Sorry: “boot-mounted.”
The vehicular crime for which Emma Czornobaj now faces a possible sentence of life in prison is…
…wait for it…
…stopping to let ducklings cross a highway.
True, Czornobaj was in the left lane at the time. But, still. I mean, in Ft. Lauderdale, drivers stop in the left lane all the time for no apparent reason. My mother will stop in any lane while she decides if this is where she makes that turn. But the worst she would get is a ticket.
To be fair, there was a small additional factor in the Canadian case. You see, while Czornobaj was waiting for the wee waddlers, a motorcyclist with a companion slammed into her car, causing the deaths of both riders. I do not know if any baby ducks were hurt.
Anyway, the jury unanimously found her guilty on all counts. And then celebrated with some paté.
Now, I don’t know anything about Canadian driving rules, but I do know that down here in civilization, if you are rear-ended on the road, it is almost always assumed to be the fault of the rear-ender and not the rear-endee. After all, you are supposed to be driving at a safe speed, with enough room between vehicles to enable you to stop, even if the car in front of you comes to a sudden halt due to adorable, fuzzy critters.
But not in Canada, I guess.
And in case you’re thinking that subjecting this animal-lover to a public trial and a possible life sentence is kind of excessive, wait until you hear what the prosecutor had to say. Her name is Annie-Claude Chasse, and she gloated about her victory by stating: “What we hope is that a clear message is sent to society that we do not stop on the highway for animals. It’s not worth it.”
As someone who has demolished a vehicle by only side-swiping a deer, I would like to respectfully disagree with Ms. Chasse, while also pointing out that “Annie-Claude” is a really dumb name. Even in America, a country that proudly refuses to ban weapons that allow maniacs to mow down innocent people on a weekly basis, when confronted with a line of ducklings, we would not heartlessly drive on, listening for that satisfying “thump, thump, thump.”
You Canadians are barbarians! And so are your geese.
See you soon, eh.