Quebec driver sentenced to 8 months after swerving to avoid ducks caused fatal collision
A Quebec driver who caused the death of another motorist when he swerved his truck to avoid hitting a family of ducks on the road has been sentenced to eight months in jail and a three-year driving ban.
Éric Rondeau, 48, must also pay a $1,000 fine as part of his sentencing after a jury found him guilty of dangerous driving causing death on Jan. 26.
Félix-Antoine Gagné, 19, was killed when his motorcycle collided with Rondeau's truck on July 22, 2019 in Sainte-Élizabeth, Que., about 80 kilometres north of Montreal. The court heard that Rondeau stopped his Ford F-150, which was towing a trailer, while he was travelling south on Route 345 after spotting the family of ducks crossing the road.
When the ducks stopped in the middle of a curve in the road, Rondeau's entire vehicle and trailer crossed the double yellow line to get around them. When he saw a motorcycle in the oncoming lane approach, he attempted to swerve out of the way back to the right lane, but Gagné crashed into the truck.
The deadly crash was captured on a surveillance camera of a nearby home.
At the time of the collision, Rondeau was travelling at about 18 km/h. The 19-year-old was travelling between 90 km/h and 100 km/h in a 70 km/h zone. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
The victim's mother, Lynda Gagné, told the court about the "cruel" absence in her life following the death of her son.
"Clearly, no amount of punishment can replace this loss, nor erase these wounds," wrote Superior Court Justice Marc-André Blanchard in his sentencing judgment issued on Monday.
The collision was the result of a "dangerous manoeuvre with extraordinary recklessness" rather than an intentional act, according to the ruling.
Nevertheless, Blanchard said the fatal collision was "a heartbreaking tragedy for [the victim's] family and even for society as a whole."
The judge agreed with the Crown's request for an eight-month jail sentence, but ruled a five-year driving ban was too long. The defence had asked for a six-month suspended sentence.
Even though he was sentenced to jail on Monday, Rondeau's lawyer, Richard Dubé, confirmed to CTV News that the judge agreed to release him from custody pending the outcome of the appeal of his conviction and sentence.