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Ontario driver ‘truly sorry’ for running into Girl Guides group, killing 8-year-old, court hears

The woman found guilty of criminal negligence in a crash that killed an eight-year-old girl and injured nine others told court on Friday that she was “truly sorry” for what the victims, their families and friends “have endured and for what you will continue to endure.”

Petronella McNorgan’s statement follows a slew of victim impact statements read into court starting on Thursday, one after the other denouncing her perceived lack of remorse.

On Nov. 30, 2021, the then-76-year-old ran through an intersection, mounted a curb, struck a light post, struck a small tree, and then struck a group of pedestrians heading eastbound on the north side of Riverside Drive toward Wonderland Road.

In all, 10 people were taken to hospital ranging in age from six to 40, including an eight-year-old girl who died. McNorgan has been steadfast in her belief that she was hitting the brake and the vehicle malfunctioned.

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“I appreciate this opportunity to offer a sincere apology and express to you my deepest sorrow for what happened on November 30, 2021,” her statement began.

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Her voice breaking at times, she said she was “sorry and devastated for the pain and anguish with which resulted from this tragedy… I would never intentionally hurt anyone and did my very best not to that night.”

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She noted that she had spent her life caring for children, referencing her work as a teacher, and that “the fact that children were hurt and (the eight-year-old girl) died will stay with me forever.”

Outside of court, Girl Guides leader Kelli Norton — who was walking with the group that was struck — said those impacted have “waited an awful long time for an apology.”

“I think that everyone in London, everyone in Ontario, everyone in Canada should be watching this case extremely closely… We were out for that night for a walk on the sidewalk. We had every business to be there and her car had absolutely no business to be on the sidewalk as well,” she continued.

“I know there has been a lot about how she was going 121 km an hour right up before the collision but prior to even entering the intersection at Wonderland Road, she was doing 50, then 60, then 70 and 80 km an hour. All of those speeds, she would have had the ability to make a choice other than keeping her foot accelerated on the gas pedal.”

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Norton also expressed frustration with the defence bringing up McNorton’s age during the sentencing hearing.

“To hear that someone who was 76 when this happened, is now 79, and because of their age and their gender and possible medical issues that have come up since, to hear that this would weigh in the sentencing is infuriating.”

The Crown is calling for four years in prison while the defence is looking for three years probation, community service and a driving ban. The justice is expected to hand down her sentence on August 20.

— with files from Global News’ Ben Harrietha. 

&© 2024 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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