No jail for Île-Perrot hit-and-run driver
IMAGE COURTESY SÛRETÉ DU QUÉBEC
A still frame image captured from security camera footage shows the moment just before the pedestrian was struck January 29, 2019 in Île-Perrot while crossing 25th Avenue.
Île-Perrot resident Eric Flynn, found guilty of operating a conveyance in a manner that is dangerous to the public following a hit-and-run incident on January 29 of last year, received a sentence of 100 hours of community service and two years of probation.
Crown prosecutor Cynthia Perreault requested that Flynn receive a sentence of three to six months in prison, given that he struck the victim when he had been explicitly told by his doctor not to drive, and that he failed to remain at the scene or report the incident to police afterwards.
Flynn is a former first responder with the Town of Île-Perrot who went on long-term disability because of an eye condition, diagnosed in May of 2018, for which he is awaiting surgery. He admitted at the Valleyfield Courthouse on December 6, 2019 that he had continued to drive “short distances” on a daily basis for roughly eight months between the time he was told to stop driving and when he struck the victim, 40-year-old Mario Cianfagna. The incident occurred on a snowy evening at the intersection of 25th Avenue and Boulevard Perrot. Flynn testified that he did not see the victim and thought he had driven over a curb.
“Am I wearing glasses?” asked Judge Bertrand St-Arnaud, in an impromptu test of the severity of Flynn’s impairment. Leaning forward in the stand, not more than 15 feet from the judge’s bench, Flynn was unable to tell.
Driving with impaired vision
Said Perreault, “He knew clearly this was a real risk. Driving (like this) every day since the spring of 2018, that’s how many times he risked lives?” Noting the impact statement of the victim, who suffered injuries from the trauma, Perreault said he was lucky there was a snow bank to catch his fall. She wondered aloud how driving with Flynn’s level of vision impairment was any different from driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs.
The incident was captured on video, which widely made the rounds on news and social media and can be seen at www.facebook.com/TheJournalYLJ/videos/2340115966052142. Flynn admitted that even when his daughter showed him the video, and he recognized himself in it, he did not come forward. He didn’t confess his involvement to anyone until Sûreté du Québec (SQ) officers, following their investigation, arrived at his front door. He then allowed them to look at his vehicle, but still did not disclose his eye problems.
FILE PHOTO BY CLAUDE ROBILLARD
Former Île-Perrot fire department member Éric Flynn was sentenced to two years’ probation and 100 hours of community service for last year’s hit-and-run event.
Judge opts against prison time
Perrault cited a precedent where a similar offender was sentenced to 12 months in prison, while Flynn’s lawyer, Constantin Kyriakidis, cited examples of lesser sentencing and requested an absolute discharge.
The judge dismissed the idea of a discharge, saying that it would send the wrong message about driving when you should not. He noted circumstances he’d seen where accidents had been caused by drivers who got behind the wheel in spite of exhaustion, or by seniors who continued to drive after symptoms associated with age had made it dangerous. He also, however, said he had an obligation to consider all reasonable alternative sanctions.
Ultimately, citing Flynn’s character as a 50-year-old family man with no previous record and a low likelihood to re-offend, St-Arnaud opted not to send him to jail. He instead issued the sentence of community service along with probation, including the condition that Flynn surrender his driver’s license and be prohibited from driving for a period of one year.