Woman faces life in prison after saving ducks on the highway

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Photo credit: KCPQ-TV

A Canadian woman faces life in prison after she decided to stop on a highway to allow a group of ducks to cross the road.

Her decision led to the deaths of a motorcyclist and his passenger daughter.

According to the Canadian Press, on June 27, 2010, 25-year-old Emma Czornobaj stopped her car in the left lane of a Montreal highway and got out to help the ducklings that were on the median.

Andre Roy, 50, who was traveling with his 16-year-old daughter, Jessie, on his Harley-Davidson, was driving an estimated 80 mph in a roughly 60 mph zone and slammed into the back of Czornobaj’s car.

Czornobaj was found guilty of two counts of criminal negligence causing death — a charge that carries a maximum of life sentence — and two counts of dangerous driving causing death.

The self-professed animal lover, Czornobaj, said she didn’t see the duckling’s mother, and was trying to help them.

The wife and mother of the victims said she doesn’t blame Czornobaj for the deaths, and says it’s time to move past the incident.

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  • hilly

    she might not blame them but this lady did wrong

    I would give her 10 years

    she probably wont get any wheres near that

    • None

      No she didnt. Do anything. Wring. An act. Of kindness. That. Led to a accident. She didnt. Intentionally. Stop. To. Hurt. Anyone. She will have to. Live. With. This. For the rest. Of her life. As for. The. Wife. Of the. Victims. So sorry. For your loss. She. Is a good. Person. That. Understands.

      • glen

        She stopped in the LEFT LANE, and did not put on her hazard lights. She did not pull over to the right shoulder. A lot of people are upset about this case, because when asked if she would take a plea deal, she and her lawyer basically said “sure, as long as we spend zero time in jail, we refuse to entertain the idea of prison time”, which is absurd. Whether you were trying to protect some baby ducks or not, two human beings lost their lives due to your negligence, no matter how well-meaning.

      • Warrior

        NONE you are wrong. She may not have intentionally caused the wreck, but she did cause it and criminally so. She took the ducks wellbeing into consideration but not that of a father and daughter. You only stop, swerve, etc. if it is safe to do so. You don’t stop in the left lane of a highway to save some ducks. If you must, pull to the emergency lane if there is one and put your hazards on! The woman was criminally negligent and should serve prison time. I killed a bird the other day because I couldn’t safely swerve or stop. Human life is more important.

      • linda lucas

        the lady was trying to do something humane. the people prosecuting her are idiots. the man on the mortorcyle was
        going way to fast. he is the one responsible.

    • Dennis Carr (@postal70)

      DUH!!! Is that the famous Hilly Billy.. 80 in a 60 and can’t see a stopped car, drunk? Stupid? She made a terrible mistake and she has to live with that for the rest of her life… You only have to live with yourself for the rest of you life.. Get yourself a motorcycle…

    • R. Webber

      What pathetic crap! Yes, she shouldn’t have stopped where she did, but the motorcyclist should have been riding at a speed to account for all sorts of outcomes ahead ….. and was grossly exceeding the speed limit. Tragic for all, but the driver’s penalty is excessive.

    • mary

      She did nothing wrong. It was an act of kindness and I would have done the same thing. It’s horrible what resulted, but why was the poor man who driving 80 mph on a MOTORCYCLE with his 16 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER in a roughly 60 mph zone. And probably 60 mph is way too fast for a motorcycle. It is a terrible, tragic thing that happened and my heart breaks for the victims. But this woman does not deserve life in prison — that is the most horrific thing I have ever heard. Think of it, she was performing an act of compassion, and this man was breaking the law — speeding the way he was — and paid the price.

  • sfp

    Whether it was a group of ducks or an accident, the one following has to be driving in a proper and prudent manner to stop their vehicle in time. The speeding motorcycle is obviously at fault.

  • Cindy

    No way should she get anything for doing this, he was driving too fast for conditions!!! If traffic had been stopped for any other reason (accident, etc.), it still would have happened.

    • Aanisah

      Yes, but if all of traffic is stopped, you’ll see a wall of brake lights. That’s a very different situation. You don’t STOP on the highway. Regardless of her intentions, she made a stupid, irresponsible decision, as there is also a speed minimum on the highway.

      • Dan

        So what if her car ran out of power and stopped all of a sudden ?. Then what?
        Yes she made a terrible choice parking there but the driver in the motorcycle should had been more cautious especially riding with his baby. Some motor cyclists think that they don’t have to follow the same laws like cars do which is definitely not right and things like this happen .

    • mary

      Not only should she not be have life in prison, but she shouldn’t be prosecuted at all. Here she is, driving along with her whole life ahead of her — and there it is, a group of ducks in the road. She does what any caring and not brain-dead individual would do, she tries to help them. Then WHAM — her life is over because some idiot MADE THE CHOICE to be driving 80 mph and slammed into the back of her car. He made the choice, and I’m sure he was aware of the risks riding that fast on a motorcycle but he made the choice anyway.

  • Hayley Andrews

    It’s sad that there are some people thinking what she did was good, even though it resulted in the deaths of not just a father, but someone’s little girl too. Moreover, it doesn’t matter what kind of vehicle they were driving, motorcycle or not. This woman could have done this safely… pulling over on the shoulder, or getting off the highway, and calling animal control or police, and letting PROFESSIONALS handle it. Instead, like a fool, she pulls over IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, and causes an accident. I’m sure if something like this happened to someone you care about, Carrie, you wouldnt be saying stupid s*** like that!

      • john

        She parked her car in the middle of the road on the HIGHWAY. It is 100% her fault. I love animals too but im not going to stop my car where people are driving 80 mph to help some ducks

      • Robin

        She only had any reason to be expecting people to be driving 60 mph, though, because that was the speed limit. Also, what if someone had a flat or something and had to stop? While that wasn’t what happened, the fact remains that he’d have been killed if anything went wrong at any point where he’d have to react to it. People shouldn’t go at such high speeds that they can’t stop if something unexpected happens.

    • Dennis Carr (@postal70)

      Right Hayley, no, wait a minute, extremely wrong, if a guy on a motorcycle can’t see a car, would he see a building? Stop sign, red light? Perhaps you don’t understand her action, pulled over to cover the ducks so they would stand a chance.. Speed kills, not ducks or women that like to protect life…

      • Aanisah

        You don’t need to see a building, stop sign, or red light on the HIGHWAY. And the left lane is where you’re expected to be driving faster than the rest of traffic. Hence, the passing lane.

    • Tommy

      I agree with Haley. This woman parked her car in a travel lane. Also what time of day was it? Was it darker out? Did she have flashers on? Was her car parked on a blind curve/hill? Were her lights on at all? She chose the lives of some ducks over her own life and any one who came upon her parked car in the fast lane. Now she has to pay for her actions.

  • Eddy

    I can’t believe there is even a question about fault. He was speeding period. Yes it’s sad that they lost there lives but this woman shouldn’t lose hers for the fathers ignorance.

    • Aanisah

      It’s also illegal to drive under the speed minimum as well. She was wrong. And I’d hate to be on the road with any of you people who think she wasn’t…

  • wewillfindstacy

    The first time I read this story I thought she was a reckless idiot. Reading that she was out of her car helping them, I think what she did might not have been all that smart but it is the motorcyclist at fault. If she was stopped there long enough to be out of her car then she was stopped long enough for the motorcyclist to see the stopped vehicle and avoid an accident. He shouldn’t have been speeding either. If he had been paying attention and not speeding him and his daughter would be alive. This woman should not have her life ruined because she was doing something kind. There was no intent to harm anyone.

  • geo

    a stoped car in the fast lane is unexpected, it is hard to disinguish when you are going towards a stoped vehicle in light traffic, if it were heavy traffic there would be lots of bright brake lites, she was out of her car so no brake lights to warn biker

    • ASala

      If you need brake lights to determine the difference between a moving and stopped vehicle, you should not be driving. It’s called paying attention people. Quit blaming everyone but the person at fault. Not only was the father speeding with his daughter on the back of his motorcycle he was not paying attention either. Neither are her fault, doesn’t matter why she was stopped….

      • JJ

        Asala, can you please tell me what the weather was like when this accident occurs? What time of day was it? What were the lightning conditions like? What color was her car? Was she past a blind turn, or slightly in front of a rise in the road, or was she visible from a mile away? What were the road conditions? Was it dry enough for normal stopping distance, or was it at all slippery from water or oil?

        I ask because you seem very confident that it was this man’s fault, and that anyone who couldn’t tell she was stopped SOON ENOUGH TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT SAFELY shouldn’t be driving. Therefore, it is obvious to me that you must have the answers to all of these questions, because they are all relevant to your conclusion.

        Otherwise, one would be forced to conclude that you’re nothing more than an opinionated idiot arrogantly making blanket assertions based on little to no evidence.

  • jake

    most of u r definitely right but those few who think its the mother at fault r complete morons and i’m sorry that u think the mother should lose her life to prison just because someone speeding caused his own death and his daughter’s i pray they went to heaven but that doesnt mean they were just the victims the driver is obviously at fault here

  • Di B

    And if she had stopped for a child in the road, and the motorcyclist (who was breaking the law by speeding) had hit, then what? And suppose those ducks had wandered across lanes of traffic and caused other people to swerve and do emergency braking??? And what if she stopped for an accident ahead of her – would she have been at fault then, when the law-breaking biker hit her? I’ve ridden cycles and know bikers. When they “opened it up”, they did not do it with other traffic around. That father was at fault, unless there is a lot we are not told in this story. Did she have a lawyer? Was the lawyer totally inept? (Excuse me, but was the judge on something?)

  • Eve

    Guilty. What idiot stops a car in the left lane of a HIGHWAY?! Any one could of been driving a few minutes behind her and speeding or not would of gotten killed. She needs to answer for her lack of common sense. You want to help, get over on the shoulder and risk your own life running around the highway after ducks.

  • Heidi

    Why would anyone in they right mind be doing 80 in a 60? No unless laws are different in different states it’s the person that is in the back fault. He should have been doing the speed limit and watching what he was doing. Regardless of where this woman parked. It’s his fault for speeding and not paying attention

  • bob

    She might be libel as a contributing factor to the crash, she is not the at fault driver. The motorcycle is the at fault, traveling to fast, speeding with his 16 year old daughter ? , failing to take due care, by not seeing an obstruction in the road, What if there were a crash and a victim was in the road,, would you pull over and leave the person in the road ? or block it with your car ? what if she were moving dangerous objects from the road, would she not block the road for her safety ? As a driver it is your responsibility to be aware of hazards in the roadway. As a father HE is responsible for his daughters safety. stupid people break me out in sarcasm !

  • joe

    The woman did nothing wrong. The motorcycle should have been paying attention. The motorcycle was at fault. The motor cycle crashed into a stopped car who crashes into a non moving object. If there is a road blockage, you go around it

    • glen

      If the woman’s car broke down in that lane, and she couldn’t get it over to the right, I’d agree with you. Stopping your car in a traffic lane is illegal. It’s even worse that she had no hazard lights on, and left a door open (as can be seen here) http://dailym.ai/1wcyMoR#i-bba4274585a833e3. If the guy changed lanes from the slow right lane into the left lane to perform a pass, there would be no time to react to a car with no lights stopped in that lane for no reason. Interacting with some animals that you intend to capture and bring home is not enough of a reason to stop in a traffic lane where there is no shoulder. You could make the argument that BOTH parties were at fault, but to say a woman who was blatantly breaking the law and putting others at risk had ZERO fault in this case is a bit much.

  • Crystal

    I Have something to say think she should only get a few years maybe cause either way there when death there probably would of be more if she didn’t stop she would of it the ducks and the people would move out the way not it died animals that would cause more Accidents so it’s a no win

  • Carolyn Matheson

    I will ALWAYS stop to help an animal if it is at all possible. It is the drivers responsibility to be alert to constantly changing conditions while they are driving. It may not have been the smartest move to stop as this woman did, but the bottom line is that the motorcyclist was speeding at 20 MPH OVER THE SPEED LIMIT!! What she did was from her heart and I support her 100%. She does not deserve a single solitary second behind bars.

    • jay

      And you’re what’s wrong with people. Putting animals over human lives. Stop being so self righteous. Who do you even think you are?

    • biggydingus

      I love you Carolyn. I too am an animal lover, which is why whenever I am out hunting wild hogs, I will always make sure to “accidentally” hit any hunters I see going after adorable deer. Because what you do in your heart is 100% more important than obeying the law, or respecting human life.

  • Angela Lang

    It was HIS fault that he died and killed his own daughter, NOT HERS. He was speeding and obviously driving in a reckless manor when you can’t stop in time and hit a car. It would be no different if she was stopped on the road for a traffic accident. She won’t spend one day in jail.

  • Robin

    While she may have been breaking the law by stopping, and she should have turned on her emergency lights at the very least, even bringing up life in prison is just ridiculous. I’ve heard of people only getting eight years for a hit and run that resulted in death, and those are stepped up due to the callousness of leaving the scene, showing there was no regret over the action. Furthermore, the motorcyclist might have been just as alive today if he hadn’t been going 80 mph on a road that had traffic, particularly since he clearly didn’t have enough control of his vehicle to react to anything unexpected in front of him. As far as I’m concerned, both of their actions were equally stupid, and both equally at fault that this happened. It’s just what happens when two bad drivers are out on the same day. I don’t think she should get any jail time.

    • Warrior

      I agree that life is way too harsh. She should be held accountable but not to the tune of life in prison. She wasn’t 100% at fault and there was absolutely no intent to cause harm. I think 6 months or a year tops. Her actions did contribute to two deaths.

      • Robin

        Yeah, six months to a year would be reasonable. I think when I said ‘no jail time’ I was pretty much reacting in shock to the severity of the sentence.

  • Diane

    I can’t believe she’s facing life in prison. She was doing a kind act. Sure she didn’t have her hazards on but the motorcyclist was driving too fast in the first place (20 miles over the posted limit). And, he’s on a motorcycle, he should have see a stopped car and been able to get out of the way, unless it was a crowded freeway (which,the article doesn’t say). To the wife/family of the motorcyclist, I’m sorry for your loss, and applaud and thank you for saying you don’t blame the driver of the car. Loss of life is difficult for anyone and you lost two loved ones. I hope they go easy on this woman, as yes, she will have to live with this accident the rest of her life anyway.

    • katrin

      The conversion of the speed limit is incorrect – when the motorcycle hit the car it was going between 65-75 MPH in a 62 MPH zone – hardly 20 MPH over the limit. The motorcycle’s speed would be standard in the passing lane in Canada as in moving with the flow of traffic. It was dusk – “sure she didn’t have her hazards’ are you thinking clearly? She was a fool to have not put on her flashers – there was a another vehicle in front of the motorcycle who swerved to avoid hitting the car at the last moment. Just because you are on a motorcycle doesn’t mean you can stop on a dime. While a life sentence is clearly inappropriate under the circumstances the sheer stupitidy of this woman is staggering.All these ‘what ifs’ are nonsense – a baby on the road, an accident, a stalled car – none of these were the reality of the circumstances – her lack of judgement and actions are responsible for the death of two people and yes living with this every day for the rest of her life hopefully witout a license will most likely be the end result. I continue to shake my head in disgust at the justifiication comments on her actions.

  • art

    You dont just stop on the highway IF IT CAN BE HELPED!! So to all those fools who keep saying things like OH WHAT IF THERE WAS AN ACCIDENT AND SHE STOPPED, that is a completely different circumstance because you have no choice but to stop. In this case, however, she choose to stop NOT out of necessity. I certainly do not agree with a life sentence and I do feel sorry for her because she was acting out of compassion. I myself am also an animal lover and would go out of my way to help an animal in distress, however, I would NOT stop on a highway and put myself and others at risk, that is just foolish and dumb. Common sense people.

  • Humanity

    Did she have insurance? If so consider that too. As a way of giving anymore at most 2 yrs. Parole of 8 and a hefty fine. Dont get me wrong this is a very tragic accident but anymore then 4 and its counterproductive to society. This most likely changed this womans life and she will feel a debt for the rest of it. A debt of guilt far greater then any finance, and all lives common problems also ask what the wife and mother who lost these loved ones. I’d also consider that.

  • patricia

    Stopping and giving no warning was not smart, driving a motorcycle at 20 miles over the speed limit was not smart either. She should get time. but he should have been going the speed limit.

  • Ann

    My question is, Why is a father driving his bike at 20 mph over the speed limit with his 16 yr. old daughter on the back. Not sure if it would of made any different if he had hit her car at 60 mph.. Not saying what she did was right, but any number of things could have caused a car to be stopped there. You should have control over whatever you are driving.
    I an sorry for this wife/ mothers loss, & to both the families who have been forever changed by this.

  • C.S.

    I think the judge should be disbarred for trying to punish an act of compassion for a woman instinctively trying to avoid, hurt animals on the road. It was a terrible, tragic accident with no mal intent.
    OJ Simpson got less of a conviction & was out golfing.
    Jail time is suppose to teach a lesson & protect society. We should not want to live in a world surrounded by cruel mean spirited people . She is a caring person.

    • jay

      The lesson is don’t put animal lives over people. If you think she’s showing compassion to help an animal but got two people killed you’re completely disconnected from reality.

      • Theo H

        I think it is you who is disconnected from reality. Any sane person would choose the lives of an entire family of ducks over a couple of lawbreaking people.

  • eab

    did the ducks survive?
    the mom duck, her ducklings and the 16 year old are innocents.
    tragedy all around
    the lady panicked and lost her senses regarding something she saw to be an emergency…there are consequences to our actions….having to live with the quick decision that unwittingly ended in 2 deaths is harder than any jail time that she will receive.
    the father, speeding well over the limit is almost unforgivable. he holds a good amount of responsibility for his and his daughter’s deathes

  • lucy

    i dont understand what kind of a man drives his little daughter to a highway over speeding in a harley davidson !!!! that women will have to spend her life in prison for helping innocent defenseless animals ….yes it was 5% her fault for not giving warnings but if it was a human she saved him then no one would have blamed her … but if the father drove under 60mph there was 90% chances of survival even the considerate wife and mother forgiven her and moved on but some ignorant people who does not give a s*** for innocent living beings are blaming her !!!wow

  • Bj

    There were all kinds of stupidity going on in the above situation. The lady should have pulled over onto the shoulder. The man on the motorcycle should have been driving the speed limit and been observant to his surroundings… like noticing a woman, ducks on the hwy and a stopped veh etc. And since he didn’t notice any of those things, what’s to say that he if she hadn’t been there trying to save the ducks that he’d have hit the ducks instead, losing control of the motorcycle and two people still wind up dead. Surely, if he didn’t notice a parked car, he wouldn’t have noticed a few ducks in the hwy until it was too late. I’m not sure the woman’s attorney did all he could, if she was facing a life in prison. Ugh! I hate stories like these! Makes people not want to get involved in random acts of kindness, be it humans or animals :/

  • Jeff Scott

    Life in prison? SERIOUSLY? Look, it’s sad a couple people died, but what she did is only the “stupidest most idiotic mistake ever” because the worst case outcome actually happened and people want to be angry and demand revenge. But accidents happen. Which is stupider–this, or driving drunk? And yet in some municipalities you have to get caught DUI 4 or 5 times just to get your license suspended. This was a tragedy, not a crime.