By Jordan W. Charness
The story started out very sweet, but unfortunately it ended tragically. A couple of weeks ago, “Samantha” set out for a drive; although she was going to be travelling on the highway, it was not one of those multi-lane highways but rather smaller and much more scenic. She was not in much of a hurry and was enjoying a beautiful day on the road.
She stuck scrupulously to the speed limit and was probably driving a few kilometres per hour slower than the maximum for that route. She carefully scanned the road ahead of her and looked at both sides of the road to make sure that nothing would jump out into her path. She had noticed signs indicating moose crossings in the area and other signs indicating that deer may be crossing the highway.
Although she had never had a vehicular run-in with a moose, one of her best friends had the misfortune of hitting a moose and was lucky to be alive. Moose are large, unpredictable and fearless beasts that tend to cross the road whether or not a car is bearing down on them. Samantha did not want to meet a moose or deer or any other animal in this way.
One thing she did notice however was a family of ducks on the side of the road. In fact, they were in a mother duck and duckling formation and began to cross the road right in front of her car. Rather than swerving to avoid them Samantha hit her brakes and came to a complete stop allowing the family of ducks to cross in front of her.
What she did not realize however was that she had stopped her car in the middle of the road and just around a curve.
Coming around the curve were two motorcycles, one driven by a father with his young daughter sharing his seat and the other by his wife. By the time they came around the curve it was too late for the motorcyclists to stop safely. Both motorcycles slammed into Samantha’s car.
Samantha was uninjured. The motorcyclists were not as lucky. The father and his daughter were killed instantly and the mother suffered injuries in the crash.
Although Samantha thought that she was doing the right thing by stopping her car and waiting for the ducks to pass, the police thought otherwise. It is illegal to stop your vehicle in the middle of a highway unless you are doing so to avoid a very large and impenetrable obstacle such as a moose. A family of ducks, while cute, are not considered sufficient as an excuse to endanger yourself and the lives of others who would not expect to come upon a stopped car in the middle of a highway.
At the writing of this column the police are talking about charging Samantha with the criminal code violation of criminal negligence which is essentially doing something with a reckless disregard for the safety of others.
The surviving mother has just been interviewed and said that she does not feel that criminal charges would be necessary because she feels that Samantha will re-live the accident over and over again for the rest of her life and that will be punishment enough.
Any way you look at it, it’s a tragedy that we can all learn from.