For hitting a cyclist with her SUV, fleeing the scene and leaving him to die, then lying about it a Markham, Ont. woman is facing little more than a 12-month, nighttime house arrest.
Alexandra Forrestall hit, and killed Safet Tairoski with her Toyota 4Runner on the morning of June 15, 2020. The Markham resident admitted in court that she did nothing more than checking her rearview mirror before presuming Tairoski was dead, and fleeing the scene of the crime, reports The Star. Forrestall then lied to coworkers, family, the police and her insurance company, concocting a fake run-in with a truck as the cause of the damage to her vehicle.
Forrestall’s complete disregard for the life of Tairoski is appalling. The almost unbelievably lenient sentence for her act is causing outrage.
12 months of house arrest
Forrestall faces 12-months of house arrest. For the firsts six months, she will only be allowed to leave for four hours a week. During the second six months, she cannot leave her home between 9 PM and 6 AM. The decision was handed down over Zoom on March 4, 2021 by Justice Edward Purtschie. Forrestall also faces two-year’s probation and a three-year driving ban, despite already having multiple speeding tickets on her record between 2017 and 2019.
“It’s hard to believe that anybody who can do this, can just get a one-year conditional sentence,” said Tairoski’s sister, Cindy Ismail, speaking with GlobalNews about her family’s anger and dismay at the ruling. Ismail pointed out that, since the 26-year-old Forrestall lives with her family, the judge’s orders that she not be allowed visitors mean little.
Observers have quickly pointed out that Purtschie’s punishment is not just lenient in response to Forrestall’s crime. Requiring someone to be at home between 9 PM and 6 AM during a pandemic that has left much Ontario still under stay at home orders hardly amounts to punishment at all.
Justice Prutschi apparently anticipated some blowback. His astoundingly light sentence is, itself, related to the current pandemic. Forrestall suffers from Asthma, and the judge was concerned for her health given the difficulty of social distancing and the possible spread of COID-19 in jails. “This sentence will likely attract criticism from all quarters. It will undoubtedly be viewed as too lenient for those who are … shattered, broken and angry,” Prutschi stated during sentencing.
Without justification, Prutschi added that unnamed others would find the sentence too severe, reports YorkRegion.com. We struggle to imagine who that could be.
Asthma and aggravating circumstances
It is hard to overstate the impact of Forrestall’s decision to flee the scene. Not only did she not check to see if Tairoski was still alive or call for help after striking the cyclists, leaving the scene meant that police were not able to fully investigate her crime. This includes being able to test Forrestall to see if alcohol was a factor in her actions.
Prutschi listed these aggravating circumstances along with Tairoski’s death and Forrestall’s multiple lies and prior driving infractions in his sentencing.
As justification for his leniency, the judge listed her early guilty plea, employment in early childhood education and unnamed philanthropic endeavors, as well as her eventual remorse.
Forrestall’s potential health issues appear to be the main reasons for her not serving jail time. Prutschi also cited various mental health issues, including suicidal ideations, anxiety, depression and “borderline personality disorder.”
As cyclists, both the facts of this crime and the complete lack of corresponding punishment are hard to read. While the driver’s health may arguably be a factor in avoiding jail time, there is no plausible justification for allowing this person to drive again, never mind after only a three-year period.