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Woman convicted of dangerous driving causing death flees to India

Katelyn Lindsay of Cambridge died in July, 2016, when Harvy Panchal hit her head-on while on the wrong side of the road

A woman convicted in the dangerous driving death of a Cambridge woman just south of Guelph has fled to India before she could be sentenced.

A Guelph courtroom heard Thursday that Harvy Panchal of Toronto returned to her native India in July immediately after being convicted of dangerous driving causing death in the July, 2016, crash that killed Kate Lindsay.

“Ms. Panchal is currently in India,” crown attorney Julia Forward told Ontario Superior Court.

“We believe she arrived in India in July and there has been no visa application since that time to return to Canada since that day.”

Justice Gordon Lemon asked the crown if “there was any ability to bring Ms. Panchal back to Canada?” through extradition.

Forward said she hadn’t yet looked into that.

SewForwardard did say she may apply to have Panchal sentenced in absentia once the formal process of confirming her status in India has been completed.

A warrant was issued for Panchal after she failed to appear for her last court date.

Forward said police went to her apartment in Toronto and found it had been sublet by an acquaintance of Panchal. That person informed police that Panchal was now in India.

Panchal was seven months pregnant when she last appeared in court in July.

Family and friends of the victim said outside court that they were extremely disappointed with the turn of events. Many have prepared victim impact statements to be read in front of Panchal.

“We’re so disappointed. So hurt,” said one woman, who asked her name not be used.

She also expressed disappointment that Panchal’s passport hadn’t been confiscated following the guilty finding in July.

The matter will come back to court April 1 so the crown can give an update. There is an RCMP office in India and they are being contacted to confirm that Panchal is in fact there.

Panchal was driving her Hyundai Veloster southbound on Wellington Road 35, 10 minutes south of Guelph on July 16, 2016, heading to African Lion Safari with her boyfriend and his brother.

After passing a truck, she tried to pass a car on a hill but was unable to do so.

Evidence showed Panchal spent 20 seconds in the other lane attempting to pass the red car.

As she was attempting the pass, Lindsay crested the hill in her Ford Focus heading toward Panchal.

At the last instant, both cars, each travelling roughly 90 km/h, swerved onto the east shoulder where the head-on collision took place.

Lindsay was killed. Panchal and her passengers suffered minor injuries.