Editor’s note: This story has been corrected from an earlier version to show the Justice of the Peace was Ginette Forgues, not Karen Baum.
CORNWALL – A New York State woman, involved in a fatal crash in North Dundas three years ago, won’t face jail time but will pay hefty fines and won’t be able to drive in Ontario for two years.
Sandy Holder-Cobb, 48, of Brooklyn, N.Y. was sentenced today (May 3) after being found guilty in November 2017 of careless driving in the death of Dr. Ian Frost.
The 69-year-old doctor from the Ottawa area (Manotick Station, Ont.) died when Holder-Cobb’s sport utility vehicle pulled out in front of his motorcycle at the intersection of County Road 43 and County Road 7, south of Chesterville, on a clear, sunny day on July 18, 2015.
Holder-Cobb, a self-employed mother of three, wasn’t in the courtroom but her lawyer, Jacques Bahimanga, acted as her agent. Bahimanga told Cornwall Newswatch, Holder-Cobb’s daughter fell ill before she was able to fly from New York.
In her decision, Justice of the Peace Ginette Forgues explained the sentence is not meant to place a value on a life but to teach the general public that careless driving is a serious offence with consequences.
Forgues noted that Holder-Cobb has been extremely remorseful. The woman also has no criminal record in Ontario and has been to regular counselling sessions with a psychologist since the accident. Court heard Holder-Cobb hasn’t driven since the collision and has nightmares, seeing Frost flying over the hood of her Nissan Pathfinder.
But she did rule it was a “momentary distraction” and was “foreseeable” when Holder-Cobb, on County Road 7, pulled into the path of the bike on County Road 43. The justice felt that Holder-Cobb is at very low risk to re-offend because what had happened in 2015 was “so out of character” for the middle-aged mother.
Forgues fined Holder-Cobb $2,000 plus the $500 victim fine surcharge with two years to pay and suspended her driving privileges in the Province of Ontario for two years.
As part of her decision, Forgues also will have Holder-Cobb to make a $2,000 charitable donation to the Ottawa Hospital Riverside Campus where Dr. Frost worked.
In order to legally make that happen and with some assistance from Crown attorney Jason Pilon, Forgues added a two year probation order so the donation could be enforced and monitored.
Defence lawyer Jacques Bahimanga has initially said he would need 30 days to decide but later agreed with the arrangement. “All of a sudden, when I told her (in a phone call during a court recess) the decision of the judge…she really said, I have to pay it today.” Bahimanga told Cornwall Newswatch.
Outside the courtroom, Bahimanga said that his client wants to pay the entire $4,500 in short order to provide closure.
“(The family is) not worried about the finances of it. The fact that they are over it and she’s not having one hour of jail time for a situation she believed that she’s innocent in it. She accepts the ruling of the court for sure. She is also on the understanding that the disaster that it created to the whole family of Dr. Frost is greater.”
Bahimanga said his client was going to fight for anything except jail time, which the Crown had been seeking.
“She’s living still seeing that situation…nightmares of seeing Dr. Frost flying over the windshield. That situation, she feels that it’s going to end when she finishes the payment. She feels making the payment will end that…and she’ll recover her life back,” Bahimanga explained.
Forgues found it “regrettable” that Holder-Cobb wasn’t in the court today and hoped that the sentence “will help heal” families of Holder-Cobb and Frost, which would be “difficult on both sides,” she empathized.