Emma Czornobaj may be facing life in prison for causing the deaths of a motorcyclist and his daughter after parking her car on a highway to ensure that a group of ducklings could safely cross the street.
According to the police report, in 2010, Andre Roy, 50, was driving his Harley-Davidson motorcycle on a Montreal-area highway along with his 16-year-old daughter Jessie, going ten miles above the speed limit. He either did not see or was not able to stop in time and smashed into Czornobaj's parked vehicle. Roy died at the scene in the arms of his wife, who was following behind in her car. Their daughter, Jessie, was pinned beneath Czornobaj's car and later died from her injuries.
However, in an incredible act of mercy, Pauline Volilakis, Roy's wife and Jessie's mother, says she forgives the young girl and wants her to be freed.
"My feelings are that it is time that we go on," Volikakis told the court. "This will not bring back my loved ones. I don't wish misfortune on anyone."
Despite Volilakis' best efforts, a twelve member jury unanimously found Czornobaj guilty on two counts of criminal negligence causing a death and two counts of dangerous driving causing death, USA Today reports.
Czornobaj's lawyers say the trauma of the incident was enough punishment for the young girl, who was simply trying to "be a good citizen."
"The fact that she was involved in the accident in the first place was a hard experience for her," defense lawyer Marc Labelle told Newser. "The fact that she had to go through a trial with a lot of publicity was tough and to be confirmed by 12 citizens, the jury, that the conduct was criminal is a hard blow."
However, others feel she should be punished as an example to other motorists.
"Would a reasonable and prudent person, in the same circumstances as was the accused, have done the same?" Chasse asked the jury. "Would that reasonable and prudent person have stopped their car on a busy highway in order to save some ducks?"
"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," Chasse said after the verdict was read.
Because the victim's wife and mother has forgiven Czornobaj, many supporters feel the young woman should not be sent to jail. A petition created in August asks the court to prevent Czornobaj from going to jail, and has received over 500, 000 signatures thus far.