MARKHAM — Alexandra Forrestall, 26, who killed a father of three, who was cycling, in a hit-and-run on Carlton Road in June 2020, escaped incarceration in a virtual hearing on March 4. Justice Edward Prutschi said that she should not be jailed partly due to her asthma diagnosis and the possible spread of COVID-19 in prisons, YorkRegion.com reported.
Prutschi characterized the circumstances of the case “a colossal tragedy that has utterly destroyed two extended families,” Global News reported.
After pleading guilty to failing to stop after a car crash and causing the death of 54-year-old Safet Tairoski, Forrestall was sentenced to a 12-month conditional sentence, two years probation, 100 hours of community service, and a three-year driving ban.
As part of her conditional sentence, Forrestall will also face stringent house arrest for the first six months, permitted to leave her home only once a week for four months to obtain essential items, for medical emergencies, or fulfill community service hours, according to Global News.
Bike painted in white at collision scene in Markham to honour Tarioski (PHOTO: CTV News)
Prutschi acknowledged, however, that his sentence may polarize the public with some seeing it excessive while others may see it as a mere slap on the wrist after a lost life.
“It will undoubtedly be viewed as too lenient for those who are, entirely understandably, still shattered, broken and angry from the loss of their beloved father, husband, sibling, family member, colleague and friend,” Prutschi said, according to CP24.
“It may be viewed as unnecessarily strict or lengthy for those who believe that Ms. Forrestall has already learned enough painful lessons through this court process,” he added.
“While it may not satisfy the interests of a particular party, my focus has been on ensuring it satisfies the interests of justice.”
On June 15, 2020, at 8:20 AM, Forrestall an early childhood educator who had recently been furloughed, was driving along Carlton Road in Markham en route to her babysitting job in Stouffville. At the same time, Tairoski was out for his morning cycle near Carlton and Old Ivy Lane.
The cyclist was hit from behind and suffered fatal injuries, according to an agreed statement of facts reported by Global. Medical evidence also indicated that Tairoski was “mortally wounded from the collision and beyond the help of medical assistance almost immediately”.
When officers arrived on the scene, Tairoski was suffering life-threatening injuries and was rushed to the hospital, where he was later announced dead, according to CP24.
In his decisions, Prutschi said that Forrestall’s vehicle was severely damaged in the crash and that she knew she had struck someone. “Nevertheless, she did not stop and remain at the scene nor offer any assistance,” Prutschi said.
Collision scene at Carlton Road (PHOTO: CTV News)
An expert accident deconstructionist concluded that environmental factors contributed to the collision. On that day and at that time, the sun would have shined in the driver’s face and obscured the windshield of her car as she proceeded eastbound, Global reported.
Forrestall proceeded to a Tim Horton’s about 20 minutes away and later told her mother that a truck had struck her vehicle at the café parking lot that morning to explain the dent. She repeated the same fabricated story to her employer, the collision reporting centre, and later, a York Regional Police officer.
She was arrested by the York police on June 16, 2020 after she went to an auto repair shop to collect her car, at which point she came clean about fleeing the collision scene after hitting Tairoski.
Forrestall apologized to the Tairoski family in a hearing in late January 2021.
“It was apparent that Forrestall experienced deep regret and was emotionally overwhelmed by the enormity of her actions,” Prutschi said, according to Global.
Forrestall will face a 12-month conditional sentence after killing Tarioski (PHOTO: Toronto Star)
The judge noted that Forrestall did not have a prior criminal record and had suffered severe depression, anxiety, and panic attacks since her late teens. Since the fatal car accident, Forrestall had “experienced frequent suicidal thoughts and had to be monitored closely by her family to prevent self-harm.”
Upon her conviction, the College of Early Childhood educators would be revoking her licence to practice.
The Markham community mourned the tragic death of the father of three and raised over C$87,000 in support of Tairoski’s surviving family members.
Tairoski was a beloved father, husband, friend who was known for his unconditional devotion to his loved ones. During his free time, he enjoyed fishing, gardening, entertaining at his home, and experimenting with technology.
“Safet was a rare combination of deep intelligence, thoughtfulness, generosity, compassion, and a man of great integrity and quiet strength,” Tairoski’s obituary stated. “He was dedicated to his family and extremely hardworking, often overlooking his own needs in the service of others.”
Tairoski with his wife, Anne Marie (PHOTO: GoFundMe)
Cycle Toronto, a local bike safety advocacy group, believes that cycling fatalities are a systemic issue in Toronto. It runs a Friends and Family for Safe Streets (FFSS) campaign which fights for better laws, enforcement, street design, and public attitudes to reduce traffic violence in the city.
“Our members are survivors of traffic collisions and friends and families whose loved ones have been killed or severely injured by careless drivers and dangerous conditions on Toronto’s streets,” FFSS stated on their website.
The team collaborates with legislators, city planners, police, and transportation authorities to reform the design of urban streets shared by motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians.
The three priorities of FFSS include harsher penalties for dangerous driving behaviours, reducing Toronto’s speed limit to 30 km/h, and changing the euphemism of “accident” to “crash”.
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