Truck driver who killed animal rights activist gets off with $2k fine
The truck driver who caused the death of 65-year-old animal rights activist Regan Russell in 2020 has pled guilty to careless driving.
On June 19, 2020, Russell was present at a pig vigil hosted by advocacy group Toronto Pig Save to protest Bill 156, which has been criticized by animal activists for "hiding animal abuse" and preventing advocates from exposing "the horrific treatment of farmed animals."
It also hiked fines for trespassing on food-processing facilities and made it illegal to obstruct vehicles carrying farm animals.
Russell died after being struck by a pig transport truck operated by driver Andrew Blake outside of Sofina Foods Inc. subsidiary Fearmans Pork Inc. in Burlington, Ont.
We’re outside the Halton Courthouse speaking up for Regan Russell who was struck & killed two & a half years ago during a Toronto Pig Save vigil.— TorontoPigSave (@TorontoPigSave) March 27, 2023
Today the courthouse is holding a plea hearing for Regan’s killer, Andrew Blake, of Brussels Transport Ltd. #JusticeForReganRussell pic.twitter.com/Qml9YybLhg
According to Toronto Pig Save, Russell was a decades-long pioneer in Canadian animal rights activism, having peacefully campaigned for animal rights for over 40 years.
"Regan was killed doing what she most cared about. The justice we want is more systemic changes, not just to punish the pig transport truck driver," said Anita Krajnc, co-founder of Toronto Pig Save.
"This is an opportunity to remember Regan's legacy by holding worldwide vigils and also to address systemic issues that led to the unsafe environment that resulted in this tragedy."
On Monday, Blake pleaded guilty to careless driving causing death under the Highway Traffic Act.
Dozens of animal rights activists, along with Toronto Pig Save, were present outside of the courthouse this morning.
LIVE: Friends & family of #ReganRussell gather outside a court appearance for the truck driver who fatally struck Regan at Fearmans Pork slaughterhouse. The driver is facing a mere provincial offence charge, escaping criminal prosecution. pic.twitter.com/M3oFuMc1dp— Animal Justice (@AnimalJustice) March 27, 2023
Russell's parents were also present and delivered emotional victim impact statements.
"Her caring nature was why she was at Fearmans that unforgettable day," Russell's mother, Pat, said. "Her concern, not only for those animals, but for people everywhere."
Blake was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine, attend 12 months probation, and not to operate a motor vehicle except for travel to and from work.
The offence carries a fine of between $2,000 and $50,000, imprisonment for a term of up to two years, and suspension of a driver's license or permit for up to five years.
Following the verdict outside the courthouse, Regan's father, Bill Russell, said, "I think justice for Regan is going to have to be changed. I think it's going to be justice by Regan with all the animal rights converts she's made who haven't known her and who are carrying her torch."
Vigils for Russell are to be held worldwide on Monday to honour her legacy.
A campaign, titled Go Vegan for Regan, has also been set up in memory of her life and impact.
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