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Ontario man acquitted of careless driving after cough led to fatal car crash

An Ontario judge has overturned the careless driving conviction of a man whose coughing fit led to him hitting and killing a woman at the side of a road.

Ontario Court Judge Lesley Baldwin recently ruled that when Ottavio Ariganello closed his eyes while behind the wheel, it was an "involuntary physical reaction" to the coughing.

Mr. Ariganello had a cough all day on Feb. 21, 2008, and he testified that on his drive home from work in a semi-rural area of Halton Hills, Ont., he began coughing intensely, then he became dizzy and his eyes closed for two to four seconds.

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His car veered off the road and hit and killed 50-year-old Carolyn McTavish, who was on the shoulder of the road getting her mail.

He was originally convicted of careless driving, but Justice Baldwin found that the justice of the peace was mistaken in finding that Ariganello chose to close his eyes.

Justice Baldwin acquitted Mr. Ariganello and said that if it weren't for the tragic consequences, he likely wouldn't have been convicted in the first place.

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