This is the sad story of one woman who was just trying to help some ducks cross a busy street. In doing so, she was the cause of a fatal accident that killed two people.
Emma Czornobaj was driving on a busy four-lane highway when she spotted a group of ducklings wandering down the median apparently unsure how to cross the road. Witnesses say that Czornobaj abruptly stopped her car and jumped out leaving her car door open as she rushed to help the ducks. She also did not turn on her hazard lights.
In doing so, she caused a large truck to swerve into another lane to avoid hitting her Honda Accord. When he swerved, the truck driver blocked the vision of two motorcycles traveling behind him. One of the bikes crashed into Czornobaj’s car killing a father and his 16-year old daughter.
A jury heard the case of the fatal crash caused by an act of kindness. Czornobaj told the jury that she knew it was a mistake, but that when she stopped her car she didn’t see the traffic behind her, and she thought it was safe.
Her attorney told the jury, “You are in the presence here of an accident with no criminal intent. If Czornobaj was found guilty, she faced a life sentence in prison. The prosecutor strongly disagreed telling the jury that Czornobaj had acted carelessly by stopping in busy traffic to save some animals.
The jury found the woman guilty of criminal negligence and dangerous driving causing death. At her sentencing, the judge explained that, “She knowingly engaged in risk-taking that she should have foreseen would put other drivers lives in danger.”
Czornobaj was sentenced to only 90 days in jail, three years probation, community service and a ten year driving ban. She appealed and lost.
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