Emma Czornobaj, ducks and life in prison

Have you heard about Emma Czonobaj? She’s 27 years old. She lives in Canada, and she loves animals.

Emma’s love of animals has resulted in her facing life in prison. The animals in question are ducks. The crime she committed is as follows:

“Czornobaj had stopped her car in the left lane of a provincial highway after spotting roughly seven ducklings on the median. . . The self-professed animal lover told the court that she did not see the ducklings’ mother anywhere and was trying to herd them, with the intention of taking them home.”

She has been found guilty of the following:

“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.”

Simply put, Emma Czonobaij stopped to help a family of ducks, and in doing so caused the death of a father and daughter who crashed into her parked vehicle. They were riding a motorcycle at the time.

Why my interest? Well I find myself torn. On the one hand, we have a young woman, exemplary by all accounts, clearly with a big heart, who was prepared to save the lives of animals, which to be fair, most animal lovers would do. I know myself I’ve slowed down to prevent hitting a dog. And on another occasion recently I came to a stand still for a tortoise, allowing my husband to leap from the car and move to the road.

Yet on the other hand, her actions on the highway were negligent. One cannot dispute that. I can only imagine she gave no other thought to her actions than possibly assuming whoever came towards her would pass on by. Whether she had her emergency lights flashing, who knows. Regardless of what we know or don’t know, two people have lost their lives, and a mother and wife has lost her family.

There are those that argue Emma should face the maximum sentence, while others are calling for leniency. Google Emma and you will find petitions, stories, Facebook pages calling for support and action to save her.

Reading further today I see a recommendation has been put forward for a 9 month sentence, and or probation. Emma’s fate is in the hands of the judge. December she will know the outcome.

As for myself, I’m inclined to go with probation, citing her sentence will be mental torture for the rest of her life.

What do you think? Should Emma face a sever sentence, or should she be given probation?



24 thoughts on “Emma Czornobaj, ducks and life in prison

  1. Michael

    the motorcycle was speeding….. not paying attention to traffic ahead… didnt even brake? should have had time to stop. NO CRIMINAL INTENT, negligent maybe….Murder No Way. If she had stopped for a drunk human in the road, or her car just broke down…. then what???? still murder??? this is a legal shame
    Prayers to those that died, slow down and pay attention.

  2. As Canadians drive on the right hand side of the road I must assume that as she stopped her car in the left hand lane this is the ‘fast’ ( overtaking) lane,, yes?
    There is no ”hard shoulder” on this lane ( that I am aware of) as it is generally reserved for overtaking.
    Was it a clear day, misty, raining? Busy, quiet? Light , dark?

    While I sympathize – and one can always play out the tragedy and substitute person for duck(s) – to stop one’s car in the fast lane of any highway/motorway is not only irresponsible but tantamount to suicidal.

    That said, without knowing the full details it is a difficult call.

    But whatever the full details, that is one helluva crazy lady without question.

  3. Clearly to me her intent should play a large part in her sentencing. She, (as far as we know) is not a criminal and her actions were for the good. Any animal crossing a highway may have still caused an accident without her assistance, her efforts on a good day may have avoided this.

    I certainly disagree with The Asian’s proposed argument and I do not believe leniency, or in my books plain common sense, means that one values animal life before humans, although where we get our arrogance about our superior greatness from as humans I still do not know.

    1. Yes I agree, her intent must be taken into consideration. To not do so would be another tragedy. Being an animal lover I would have at least slowed down or swerved dramatically, both of which could have caused an accident. Would I then be charged? I have no idea.

      1. Exactly. It was a bit of a no win situation. I could pretty much guarantee I would not have run over the critters to keep the traffic flow going which would have left me little time to think of what else to do also.

  4. What a minefield. Sometimes we fret about a throw-away comment that wounds someone and we worry about their reaction. But that is all so trivial compared to something as major as an action that has had life and death consequences. It’s a tricky one – the ducks go free but a father and daughter lose their lives. Sometimes the best intentions…

  5. She will live the rest of her life with the knowledge that two people were killed because of her actions. That in itself is a “life-sentence”.
    A difficult one for the judge and jury.

  6. hedgehog118

    Well it is common knowledge that you do not put human life in danger over any animal, if it means hitting a dog or any other animal to swerve and kill a person you are in the wrong,

  7. talesofwhimsy

    Sounds like she stopped her car in the middle of a lane, that is negligence. But it’s a sad case. It was definitely an accident.

  8. That’s a really tragic story, and Emma must be absolutely devastated at the outcome of her ‘good deed’. I don’t think that a jail term is appropriate, but feel that she should be fined a hefty sum for negligent driving and disobeying the rules of the road. How awful for the bereaved family too. No wonder it’s such an emotional case

  9. One cannot give a considered opitnion without knowing all the facts in detail. However, it does strike me as ridiculous in many ways that she is being held culpable, and to such an extreme degree..
    Surely the father on the motorbike must have been riding without due care? The point is that at any time on the roads it is possible that an obstruction occurs – in South Africa in particular with all the trucks regularly breaking down – and, particularly on a motorbike, one needs to be constantly on the lookout.
    I know dozens of people – among which I count myself – who would have acted in the same way.
    My daughter has twice stopped on a major freeway to rescue terrified dogs which subsequently became part of our household. It could easily have happened that her stopped vehicle caused an accident – but one does credit other road users with some sense and caution.
    Could Emma have reasonably foreseen such a tragic result from her actions? I say, no. Therefore extreme punishment appears unwarranted and unjust.

    1. I think you have summed this up well. I hadn’t even considered the daily obstructions of SA roads and animals. We probably swerve and slow down more than we realise on a daily basis.
      I will be keeping my eye open for the sentence

  10. I think that one could argue that if you are lenient towards her, it means that you value animal lives over humans. Almost like how people here have issues with you raising funds to try save the rhinos yet there are starving people out there who you aren’t willing to help. But you could also argue that the father could have been more “proactive” as it’s much easier to avoid a car that’s stopped on the road when you’re riding a bike than if you’re driving a car.
    I most probably could type a long essay on this but for now, I reserve my judgement…

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