The jury hearing the trial of a man accused of causing the death of a motorcyclist while he avoided running over a family of ducks began deliberating Tuesday and emerged quickly with two questions for the presiding judge.
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Éric Rondeau, 47, of Repentigny is on trial at the Joliette courthouse, where he is charged with criminal negligence causing the death of Félix-Antoine Gagné, 19, and the dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing death.
On July 22, 2019, Rondeau was behind the wheel of a Ford F-150 pickup truck on Route 345 in Ste-Élisabeth, near Joliette, when his vehicle collided with Gagné’s Yamaha motorcycle.
Rondeau saw a duck and ducklings crossing Route 345 as his pickup truck approached a very sharp curve. He slowed down and came to a gradual stop while using his hazard lights. But the ducks paused in the middle of his path and Rondeau tried to go around them. In doing so, he crossed a double line while — according to one expert who testified — not being able to see more than 105 metres of the roadway in front of him because of the curve.
Gagné was on his Yamaha motorcycle in the oncoming lane and fell off it as he lost control in his apparent reaction to spotting the pickup truck. He and the Yamaha slammed into Rondeau’s Ford F-150. Gagné died as a result of the collision.
On Tuesday, Superior Court Justice Marc-André Blanchard delivered his final instructions to the jury before issuing the standard order that they be sequestered until they reach a decision. After a few hours, the panel emerged late Tuesday afternoon with two questions. One involved the speed limit on Route 345, while the other involved what the law is on crossing a double line.
During a brief debate on the matter, prosecutor Alexandre Dubois said the question concerning a double line is simple because a double line cannot be crossed except in certain circumstances. But Dubois and defence lawyer Richard Dubé agreed to debate the matter more Wednesday morning before Blanchard answers the questions.
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