(Amqui) The driver who left the city of Amqui in amazement and consternation by rushing into pedestrians was greeted by cries of “rotten” Tuesday afternoon at the Amqui courthouse, a few minutes before to be charged with dangerous driving causing death.
A small crowd of onlookers had gathered to welcome the driver of the van who mowed down, intentionally according to the police, a dozen pedestrians on Tuesday, killing two and seriously injuring including a baby. The 38-year-old man who wore a t-shirt remained silent as insults and boos erupted.
The Crown has filed dangerous driving charges against him causing the death of Gérald Charest, 65, and Jean Lafrenière, 73, both of Amqui.
The Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions does not rule out the idea of laying murder charges. “The police investigation is not over. A large number of witnesses must be met. More information needs to be collected,” said Simon Blanchette, Crown prosecutor.
“So necessarily there will be other charges laid when the investigation has been completed and we have been able to look at all the evidence. »
The driver, who lived in an apartment block a few hundred meters from the courthouse, will remain detained until his trial. He is due back in court on April 5.
Steve Gagnon did not flinch in front of the judge, nor in front of the journalists or the assembled onlookers. The Crown recalled that the man was presumed fit to stand trial until proven otherwise. “No information that arises from the evidence allows us to doubt his fitness,” said Mr. Blanchette.
The defendant’s attorney declined to answer questions. “All I want to say today is that the community of Amqui has experienced a senseless drama. Our first thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and the hard-hit community,” said Hugo Caissy simply.
The Amquien Daniel Thériault knew the two victims. They were two “very gentle” men, in good physical shape, great walkers. Both were retired.
“Mr. Charest worked for a landscaping company in Amqui. I still see him working with a smile and waving his hand at us, he recalled with tremolos in his voice. He was a lively man, of great physical strength. He had just retired. »
According to him, among the dozen pedestrians caught up were grandparents who were walking with their grandchildren.
Tuesday morning, the crime scene looked desolate. Shoes were strewn on the ground near a twisted stroller.
“The only ones who weren’t screaming were the victims,” recalls David Morin, who witnessed the sordid scene in the moments after the collisions.
According to him, the victims were strewn on the ground for more than 100 meters. “The guy, he kept going!” And there are some who have avoided it, the truck. »
Bloc Québécois MP Kristina Michaud spent the morning on the scene of the drama. “I have close friends who are grieving right now,” said the local MP, who grew up in Amqui.
“The first reaction was shock. We are a small community of 6000 inhabitants and usually there are no dramas like that,” she said.
“We think it happens elsewhere. Here in Amqui, when we hear sirens, we stick our noses to the window because we think we must know that person, ”notes the MP. “The whole community would like it to be a nightmare. »