Trucker Charged in Death of Protester But Activists Are Still Outraged
Burlington, ON – A trucker is facing a charge of Careless Driving Causing Death after a female animal rights activist was killed in June during a protest outside a meat processing facility.
The Halton Regional Police Service (HRPS) announced on Monday that a 28-year-old male from the Municipality of North Perth has been charged under the Highway Traffic Act in the death of 65-year-old animal rights activist Regan Russell of Hamilton.
Russell was participating in a “pig vigil” outside of Fearmans Pork meat processing facility at Appleby Line and Harvester Road around 10:20 a.m. on June 19 when she was fatally struck by a livestock hauler.
Witnesses said Russell was attempting to feed and water the pigs inside the trailer when she was struck.
Following her death, animal rights activists were extremely vocal to various media news outlets around the world and on social media demanding criminal charges be brought against the trucker.
“The truck driver who was driving hundreds of pigs to their death did not care about a human life either and decided to run her over and crush her to death,” admins of the Facebook group Dismantle Speciesism wrote.
The group doubled-down, also writing, “It was murder, according to the witnesses. The driver initially stopped, and then immediately drove into her and did not stop until she was split in half and dragged her body until the security forced him to stop.”
In direct opposition to Dismantle Speciesism‘s claims, local Martin Foebel was having breakfast in the Wendy’s parking lot across from Fearmans as the accident happened.
Foebel told The Hamilton Spectator he did not believe the trucker was aware of Russell’s presence.
“The truck was there for about four or five minutes. The protesters were there. Then they walked away from the truck when they were done,” Foebel recalled.
“Then I saw a woman in the front there … I assume the truck driver thought he was clear to go and didn’t see that last protester,” he stated.
Transportation Nation Network (TNN) reached out to authorities at HRPS multiple times, but our calls and emails went unreturned.
HRPS remained silent on the matter until today.
“This investigation included the interview of several witnesses, analysis of physical evidence, and a technical reconstruction of the collision,” an HRPS statement said. “In addition, video footage that captured the entirety of the incident was reviewed by investigators.
Despite the charge, HRPS did not determine the trucker had intent to harm Russell.
“There were no grounds to indicate this was an intentional act, or that a criminal offence [sic] had been committed,” HRPS said. “The Halton Regional Police Service extends its sincerest condolences to the friends and family affected by this tragedy.”
Under the Highway Traffic Act, if convicted of the Careless Driving Causing Death charge, the unnamed driver could receive a fine of up to $50,000, imprisonment for up to two years, and a license suspension for up to five years.
Mark Powell, Russell’s long-time partner, responded to the news with dismay.
“We are disappointed by the lack of criminal charges, and would like respect and time digesting this information,” Powell’s family said in its statement released by Animal Save Movement (ASM).
Similarly, the ASM also released a statement expressing outrage the trucker was not charged with more.
“The truck driver was only charged with a Highway Traffic Act offence [sic],” the ASM stated. “This is completely unacceptable and justice has not been served.”
According to its Facebook page, ASM has a “Justice for Regan Rally” scheduled on Tuesday, July 21 at the HRPS headquarters.
This case is yet another reminder of the perils presented to truckers, motorists and protesters by demonstrations staged on or near roadways.