No charges in deaths of 3 Que. cyclists

No charges will be laid against a Quebec driver who struck and killed three cyclists with his pickup truck on May 14.
Police examine the scene where a pickup truck hit a group of cyclists, killing three and injuring two. ((Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press))
No charges will be laid against a Quebec driver who struck and killed three cyclists with his pickup truck in May.

The accident happened on a relatively straight stretch of highway in Rougemont east of Montreal just before 10 a.m.

The three women cyclists, all from Montreal's South Shore suburbs, were practising for a triathlon along Highway 112 when they were hit from behind leaving a trail of bicycle helmets, water bottles and twisted bike frames along the side of the highway.

France Carignan walked away from the crash, but she lost her partner, Christine Deschamps, 44, who died at the scene.

Carignan was riding behind her girlfriend when the driver slammed into them. "There was no brake on the road, no brake sound, nothing, just the impact, bang. It happened very fast," she said.

A police investigation was launched but on Tuesday Martine Bérubé, who is with the Quebec Crown prosecutors' office, said there was not enough evidence to lay charges.

"After analyzing the police report, the prosecution came to the conclusion that there were no elements of proof that could sustain criminal charges against the driver," she said.

"I was hoping for a charge," said Carignan. "Not as a revenge but when we are driving we are responsible and we must be alert."

The driver of the truck was a 29-year-old volunteer firefighter, who hasn't been identified. He was headed east along the highway on his way home from working the night shift when he hit the cyclists. It was determined he was using the truck's cruise control feature at the time. He has never spoken publicly about the events that took place the morning of May 14.

Right to know

Sandra de la Garza Aguilar, 36, of Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville and Lyn Duhamel, 39, of Boucherville were also killed. Two more cyclists in the group of six were injured.

Carignan said she's frustrated they are still no closer to knowing what happened behind the wheel of the truck more than five months after her girlfriend's life was cut short. "I'm thinking about her every day, every day," said Carignan.

Suzanne Lareau, president of the cycling advocacy group Vélo Québec, said the public has a right to know the facts.

"If this guy is sleeping while driving or something like that, we want to know ... and we want to know how we can prevent that kind of accident in the future."

The Quebec Coroner's Office, which is investigating the crash, said it hopes to release its report in the coming weeks.