Fine or jail? Submissions in 2015 Chesterville fatal motorcycle crash

Entrance for the SD&G Provincial Offences Act courtroom at 26 Pitt Street in Cornwall, Ont. (Newswatch Group/Bill Kingston, File)

CORNWALL – The Crown and defence are at odds whether a woman from New York State should face jail time or pay a hefty fine in relation to a deadly 2015 crash in North Dundas.

The Provincial Offences Act court heard sentencing submissions Thursday (Feb. 1) for Sandy Holder-Cobb of Brooklyn, N.Y. after she was convicted of careless driving in November last year.

Holder-Cobb was on her way to visit family when she drove into an intersection at County Road 43 and County Road 7, south of Chesterville, into the path of an oncoming motorcycle.

The crash killed 69-year-old Ian Frost from the Ottawa area (Manotick Station, Ont.).

Holder-Cobb’s lawyer, Jacques Bahimanga, said the death was “unfortunate” and “troubling” and that his client is remorseful. “She can’t even drive a car right now,” he said.

As a self-employed single mother with “not a big salary,” Bahimanga argued the maximum fine of $2,000 would “be meaningful for her” and send a message of general deterrence to the community. He also recommended a driver’s licence suspension of one year.

But Crown attorney Jason Pilon said the court needed to send a strong message to the public that people will be held accountable for their actions – especially someone like Holder-Cobb because they are “like everybody else.”

“Even single mothers go to jail. Why? Because they kill people too.”

Pilon recommended the minimum jail time of six months and no less than a one year driver’s licence suspension.

During the trial, court heard Holder-Cobb had been driving on County Road 7 and stopped her Nissan Pathfinder at the intersection of County Road 43. She looked both ways – once each way – before going through the two-way stop.

The crash happened on a bright, sunny afternoon on July 18, 2015 at the intersection of two straight, level highways. Frost was unable to avoid the SUV in the intersection and hit the side of the vehicle, launching him onto the roadway. He later died of his injuries at hospital.

“It was careless (driving) the moment she entered into that intersection. This should have never happened,” Pilon said.

Pilon was also quick to add that a fine or jail time “doesn’t equate to a life.”

The Crown had successfully made its case during the trial that Holder-Cobb had not done what a reasonable, prudent person would have done under the circumstances – the definition of careless driving. A reasonable, prudent person would have taken subsequent looks down the highway because of the passage of time and the travel of vehicles during that time, the Crown had argued.

While both sides recommended a licence suspension, there was some question whether the Ontario court would have any jurisdiction over someone with a New York State driver’s licence.

Justice of the Peace Ginette Forgues is scheduled to deliver her sentencing decision May 3.

Editor’s note: Sandy Holder-Cobb now goes by Sandy Holder-Taylor. In order to minimize confusion in our continuing coverage of this case, we are referring to her as Sandy Holder-Cobb.