Quebec City man found guilty of criminal negligence in death of pregnant woman

A Quebec City man has been found guilty of criminal negligence causing death for his role in a collision that killed a woman who was 40 weeks pregnant in 2016.

Jonathan Falardeau-Laroche was accused of causing a three-car collision on Aug. 10, 2016, where 27-year-old Marie-Pier Gagné was struck as she was using a pedestrian crosswalk.

Gagné had just left the CHUL hospital in Sainte-Foy when she was hit. Her baby was successfully delivered, but Gagné later died of her injuries.

Falardeau-Laroche was also found guilty on two counts of negligence causing injury in relation to the injuries suffered by the passenger of another vehicle and Gagné's baby, who was born with a fractured skull.

Judge Pierre L. Rousseau concluded that the young man should never have taken the wheel that day as he had been thoroughly warned — even that very morning — not to drive.

The Quebec City courthouse was packed with an audience that included members Gagné's family, but the chamber remained silent as the verdict was read aloud on Wednesday morning.

Daniel Coulombe Radio-Canada

In his ruling, Rousseau said Falardeau-Laroche's defence failed to prove he was not sufficiently warned about the dangers of driving with epilepsy. 

During the trial, Falardeau-Laroche's neurologist testified that he had told his patient at least seven times, from the time Falardeau-Laroche was 13 years old, that he should not drive.

The defence had argued that the neurologist was not clear in his discussion with Falardeau-Laroche and that his testimony was an effort to protect his reputation.

Rousseau made note that Falardeau-Laroche had not told his doctor about another collision he had been in just eight months before Gagné was killed. The judge said Falardeau-Laroche lied in an effort to keep his driver's license.

Falardeau-Laroche's colleagues had also warned him not to drive.

"The accused's reaction to the advice of his colleagues speaks volumes about his carelessness, which I see as highly reckless or out of touch with the safety of others," Rousseau wrote in his ruling.

Falardeau-Laroche is expected to be sentenced in December. Under Canadian law, he could be handed a life sentence.