Death of a Ukrainian girl in 2022 | The driver admits his guilt

The driver who mowed down and killed young schoolgirl Mariia Legenkovska on a street in the Ville-Marie borough in December 2022 admitted his guilt to a criminal charge of hit-and-run on Thursday at the Montreal courthouse.


Posted at 3:27 p.m.

Updated at 8:28 p.m.

What there is to know

  • A driver who struck and killed a young Ukrainian refugee in 2022 in Montreal pleaded guilty to a hit-and-run charge on Thursday.
  • Manuel Becerra Garcia admitted he did not stop after feeling an impact.
  • The death of young Mariia Legenkovska shook Quebec and caused a questioning of the place given to automobiles near schools.

Manuel Becerra Garcia, 46, admitted to failing to stop to investigate shortly after 8 a.m. that morning after feeling an impact on the hood of his 2018 Jeep Cherokee SUV and then being hit. the impression of having felt a bump under the rear tire of his vehicle on the passenger side, in a residential area of ​​Ville-Marie.

The prosecutor for criminal and penal prosecutions, Me Sylvie Dulude, told the court that the scene was filmed by cameras from a Société de transport de Montréal bus which was stopped at the corner of the street.

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PHOTO JOSIE DESMARAIS, LA PRESSE ARCHIVES

The intersection of rue Parthenais and rue de Rouen, where the tragedy took place

A witness at the scene also claimed to have seen Becerra Garcia stop his vehicle at the mandatory stop on rue Parthenais heading south, then to have seen him look to the left, but not to the right. While leaving, the driver hit Mariia Legenkovska, 7, a Ukrainian refugee who was walking to school with her sister and brother.

Becerra Garcia relied on his GPS and used the neighborhood’s residential streets to get to the South Shore after spending the night working.

“ [Becerra Garcia] said that there was a blinding sun that morning, and that he never saw the pedestrian. Further on, he looked in his side mirrors, but saw nothing and continued on his way,” said the prosecutor.

It was upon seeing in the media later that morning that a hit-and-run had occurred at the corner of Parthenais and Rouen that Becerra Garcia realized that he could be the cause of the death of the little girl. He showed up at 12:42 p.m. at a Longueuil police station with his ex-partner.

Considering the fact that the accused admitted his guilt, that he collaborated with the police, that he presented himself to the authorities voluntarily and that his driving record was almost clean before the event, the pursuit and The defense proposed that Becerra Garcia receive a 12-month sentence in the community, with no other conditions.

Judge Pierre E. Labelle indicated that he would study the request of both parties, and that he would submit his decision during a session at the courthouse on June 5.

“A deep wound”

After admitting his guilt, Becerra Garcia read in court a letter he had written in Spanish to Mariia Legenkovska’s family. Galyna Legenkovska, Mariia’s mother, was present in the courtroom and followed the discussions with the help of a Ukrainian interpreter.

“There are not enough words to express the depth of the pain I feel,” Becerra Garcia said, wiping away tears. The tragic loss of your daughter has left a deep wound in my heart. As a father, I have been immersed in pain and sadness since that day. From the depths of my being, I regret the pain I caused. […] With a saddened heart, I ask your forgiveness. »

Galyna Legenkovska listened to the message and silently wiped away her tears.

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PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

The victim’s mother, Galyna Legenkovska (left), Thursday at the Montreal courthouse

After the session, the prosecutor said she spoke with Mme Legenkovska, who did not want to speak in court or speak to the media.

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PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

The prosecutor, Me Sylvie Dulude, Thursday at the Montreal courthouse

She told me that her grieving process could finally begin, because the driver admitted his fault. He said he was guilty. That’s what was important to her.

Me Sylvie Dulude, prosecutor, reporting the words of the victim’s mother, Galyna Legenkovska

The defense lawyer, Mr.e Éric Coulombe, said that his client had demonstrated “willful blindness” on the morning of December 13, 2022.

“The lesson here for everyone is that if we feel like we may have collided with our vehicle, we have a duty to look to see what happened. We have a duty to get out of the vehicle to ensure that we are not committing a crime. We cannot be willfully blind,” he said.

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PHOTO ROBERT SKINNER, THE PRESS

The defense lawyer, Mr.e Éric Coulombe, Thursday at the Montreal courthouse

Me Coulombe described the life of his client, a man raised by a single mother in poverty in Mexico before arriving in Quebec in the 2000s. As a child, Manuel Becerra Garcia was hit by a car in Mexico while he was crossing the street. His maternal grandfather died after being hit by a truck. Becerra Garcia works nights in cleaning and housekeeping, and is the father of two children.

According to the requirements of the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), Becerra Garcia will lose his driving license for four years.

Citizens in the streets of Rouen and Parthenais have been complaining for years about the dangerous nature of regional automobile transit in narrow residential streets. Since the fatal accident, the Ville-Marie district has created one-way traffic at this intersection in order to prevent traffic. More than a hundred speed bumps have also been installed in the district to enforce the 30 km/h limit.

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