60-Year-Old Pleaded Guilty to Failing to Remain at the Scene of an Accident Causing Bodily Harm

Update: 

Lindsay Tamminga's parents, Edward and Angela, and older sister Ashley, speak to reporters after Friday's court proceedings. Lindsay Tamminga was killed after stepping out against a red light in what became a hit and run in Mississauga on Sept. 16, 2010. LOUIE ROSELLA/TORSTAR NEWS SERVICE

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Lindsay Tamminga made a mistake on Sept. 16, 2010, when she crossed a Meadowvale intersection against a red light.

Jose Cobaria made an even bigger one when he struck the 23-year-old woman with his car and fled the scene, leaving her there to die.

Tamminga succumbed to her injuries in hospital.

Friday in Brampton court, Justice Hugh Atwood broke down when the young woman’s family members told the court they forgive Cobaria after the 60-year-old pleaded guilty to failing to remain at the scene of an accident causing bodily harm.

“We forgive him. We don’t want him and his family to suffer unduly,” the dead woman’s father, Edward Tamminga, told the judge during an emotional victim impact statement.

The teary-eyed judge then told the family, “I’m really really sorry for your loss,” and took an early morning break.

Atwood sentenced Cobaria to 90 days in jail, to be served on weekends, and two years’ probation.

“His driving was proper. His only fault was that he left,” the judge said. “When a person keeps going and going and going, that’s not understandable. It is very morally blameworthy.”

Cobaria offered a tearful apology to Tamminga’s family members prior to sentencing, which they acknowledged. After proceedings, Cobaria’s wife hugged Tamminga’s family members and repeatedly said, “I’m sorry.”

Tamminga died at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, nine days after being struck at the intersection of Creditview Rd. and Kenninghall Cr. by Cobaria, who then fled the scene.

She had been crossing Creditview Rd. with a friend just after 11 p.m. when she was hit by Cobaria’s northbound car.

Tamminga sustained a collapsed lung, broken pelvis and head trauma after she did a “somersault” over the Toyota Matrix and landed several metres away from the intersection, the court heard.

Court heard Cobaria, a married father of four, had a green light and Tamminga and her friend had a red light. Tamminga “darted out” in front of Cobaria’s car — “in other words, they shouldn’t have been crossing where they were,” Crown prosecutor Louis Stokes said as he read an agreed statement of facts into the record.

Cobaria waited two days before turning himself in to police at the Square One community police station, his vehicle still having “significant damage” to the hood and bumper from the crash, Stokes said.

Cobaria’s fleeing the scene didn’t result in Tamminga’s death, court heard, as the injuries were grave and she received medical assistance quite quickly.

His lawyer, Ken Byers, asked the judge for the imposed intermittent sentence, saying the guilty plea was indicative of Cobaria’s “sincere remorse.”

Cobaria has no criminal or Highway Traffic Act record.

“He made a bad decision,” Byers said. “He wishes every day that he wakes up that he had stopped.”

Stokes asked the judge for a jail term of five months, arguing the purpose of sentence is to deter Cobaria, and society in general, from committing similar crimes.

Edward Tamminga acknowledged “there are imperfect drivers and imperfect pedestrians.”

He told the court his daughter was a “beautiful, feisty, funny and sensitive” person who “completed our family.”

He said Cobaria’s actions have caused much pain that can’t be measured.

“By leaving the scene and waiting so long to take responsibility for his actions, Mr. Cobaria has cost us, the Crown, the authorities, himself and others, much,” he said.

 

When these situations occur, police can either charge a motorist under Canada’s Criminal Code or under the Ontario Highway Traffic Act and both have different consequences upon conviction.

 

Description of the Criminal Offence (Pursuant to the Criminal Code)               Section of Code      Type of Offence            Penalty under the Code

Fail to Stop at Scene of Accident (not knowing person hurt/killed in accident)Fail to Stop at Scene of Accident (knowing person hurt in accident)Section 252SummaryIndictable Offence5 Years Imprisonment10 Years Imprisonment
Fail to Stop at Scene of Accident (knowing person is killed in accident)Section 252Indictable OffenceLife Imprisonment

 

Failure to stop at scene of accident

  • 252. (1) Every person commits an offence who has the care, charge or control of a vehicle, vessel or aircraft that is involved in an accident with
    • (a) another person,
    • (b) a vehicle, vessel or aircraft, or
    • (c) in the case of a vehicle, cattle in the charge of another person,

    and with intent to escape civil or criminal liability fails to stop the vehicle, vessel or, if possible, the aircraft, give his or her name and address and, where any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, offer assistance.

  • Marginal note:Punishment

    (1.1) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) in a case not referred to in subsection (1.2) or (1.3) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.

  • Marginal note:Offence involving bodily harm

    (1.2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) knowing that bodily harm has been caused to another person involved in the accident is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.

  • Marginal note:Offence involving bodily harm or death

    (1.3) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life if

    • (a) the person knows that another person involved in the accident is dead; or
    • (b) the person knows that bodily harm has been caused to another person involved in the accident and is reckless as to whether the death of the other person results from that bodily harm, and the death of that other person so results.
  • Marginal note: Evidence

    (2) In proceedings under subsection (1), evidence that an accused failed to stop his vehicle, vessel or, where possible, his aircraft, as the case may be, offer assistance where any person has been injured or appears to require assistance and give his name and address is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof of an intent to escape civil or criminal liability.

  • R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 252;
  • R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 36;
  • 1994, c. 44, s. 12;
  • 1999, c. 32, s. 1(Preamble).

Fail to Remain, Section 200 of the Highway Traffic Act

Anyone who is convicted of this charge faces a minimum fine of $200, a maximum fine of $1000, or a maximum of 6 months in jail. Driver’s licence can be suspended up to 2 years. Accumulation of 7 demerit points on your licence with the MOT.

Whenever a motorist is involved motor vehicle accident in Ontario, the motorist who came into contact with the other motorist or cyclist or pedestrian, must stop at the scene of the accident and converse with the driver of the other vehicle, the rider of the cyclist or the pedestrian or all other person(s) involved in the accident.

When there is a personal injury involved. police must be contacted immediately.

If there are any injuries, medical assistance must be sought as soon as possible and any other assistance that can be provided at the scene of the accident must be provided.

In addition to the above, you have an obligation to provide your name, address and auto-insurance particulars to the other driver(s), rider(s) or pedestrian(s) involved.

Fail to Remain (pursuant to section 200 of the Highway Traffic Act)
Anyone who is convicted of this charge faces a minimum fine of $200, a maximum fine of $1000, or a maximum of 6 months in jail. Driver’s licence can be suspended up to 2 years. Accumulation of 7 demerit points on your licence with the MOT.

 

Duty of person in charge of vehicle in case of accident

200.  (1)  Where an accident occurs on a highway, every person in charge of a vehicle or street car that is directly or indirectly involved in the accident shall,

(a) remain at or immediately return to the scene of the accident;

(b) render all possible assistance; and

(c) upon request, give in writing to anyone sustaining loss or injury or to any police officer or to any witness his or her name, address, driver’s licence number and jurisdiction of issuance, motor vehicle liability insurance policy insurer and policy number, name and address of the registered owner of the vehicle and the vehicle permit number. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 200 (1); 1997, c. 12, s. 16.

Penalty

(2)  Every person who contravenes this section is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not less than $400 and not more than $2,000 or to imprisonment for a term of not more than six months, or to both, and in addition the person’s licence or permit may be suspended for a period of not more than two years. 2009, c. 5, s. 54.

Notification of damage to trees, fences, etc.

201.  Every person who, as a result of an accident or otherwise, operates or drives a vehicle or leads, rides or drives an animal upon a highway and thereby damages any shrub, tree, pole, light, sign, sod or other property on the highway or a fence bordering the highway shall forthwith report the damage to a police officer. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 201.

Reporting by various officials

Reports by Crown attorneys and police officers

202.  (1)  Every Crown Attorney and police officer having knowledge of a fatal accident in which a motor vehicle is involved shall secure the particulars of the accident, the persons involved, and other information as may be necessary to complete a written report to the Registrar on the forms prescribed for that purpose, and shall transmit the report forthwith to the Registrar. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 202 (1).

 

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