Michael Bond struck and killed a pedestrian on Effingham Street one year ago Monday. Now a court will decide his fate.

The day was dreary and overcast, which perfectly matched the mood of Michael Bond, and the topic under discussion.

He was standing outside the Niagara Regional Police station on Church Street in St. Catharines, last Wednesday at 8 AM. Bond had been talking to the desk officer, hoping to meet with the constable who wrote up the report at the scene of his automobile accident on Effingham Street a year ago, which resulted in the death of 66-year-old Fonthill resident Patty Valleriani. She left behind a grieving husband, two sons, grandchildren, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, and many friends.

Michael Bond, with his dog, Whisky. DON RICKERS

The 52-year-old Bond said he still had vivid recollections of that fateful morning.

“November 30, 2019, 11 AM. I was helping out a friend with a medical emergency. I didn’t go driving around just for fun.”

At the same time, he expressed confusion about what transpired before his eyes that morning.

“I just can’t explain what happened,” he said.

He maintains that he and his friend were driving south on Effingham in a Volkswagen Jetta, between Foss and Welland Roads, when Mrs. Valleriani, who was walking along the roadway, stumbled and fell into the path of his vehicle.

However, the morning was bright and clear—visibility and road conditions were excellent. There was no oncoming traffic. It is next to impossible to imagine such an accident occurring between a pedestrian who could be seen several dozen meters away down an arrow-straight stretch of roadway, and a vehicle operated with any degree of care and in observance of basic rules of the road.

Bond has been charged under the Highway Traffic Act with careless driving causing death, driving while under suspension, driving with no vehicle license, and operating an unsafe vehicle.

I just can’t explain what happened

He has decided to represent himself in court and plead not guilty to all charges. Bond is unemployed, and said he can’t afford a lawyer. A judge at a previous hearing gave him time to investigate legal aid, but Bond said “It didn’t work out.”

Dressed in a hoodie and bulky jacket, he clutched his small dog Whisky, and pulled a few personal items and his court documents with him in a wheeled suitcase. Bond projects as a street person, not unlike the forlorn men who, at that moment, filed out of the hall at St. George’s Church, across the street, having just eaten the free breakfast the church hosts every morning, 365 days a year, for the disadvantaged.

In fact, Bond is now living on-and-off the street, since he was recently evicted from his previous accommodation. Local hostels are now his home.

Bond said he had been staying with his father and stepmother for a while near Highway 20, not far from where the accident occurred. He had been looking for another place to live, due to a poor relationship with his stepmother. He had lived in the basement of their house, or in a trailer in the yard.

“My father had a stroke, and was in a coma…he’s in the hospital, brain damaged. My evil stepmother—I’ve never gotten along with her. She wanted me out. The police told me I had to leave the property…so now I’m on the streets.”

Bond swears he was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol when he slid behind the wheel that morning, although he admits to a DUI conviction “about 20 years ago.”

He remembers hearing a noise, and thought maybe he had hit a dog on the road.

“I stopped the car and got out and I saw the lady on the ground. I yelled to my buddy to call 9-1-1 right away. I tried to do CPR…I did everything I could.”

He paused before continuing.

“I feel horrible. Look, my wife died in a motor vehicle accident three years ago, so I know what the family is going through. It’s terrible. And they’re suing me for $10 million, which is ridiculous, because I don’t have anything.”

Bond has been sporadically employed over the years.

“The last place was dangerous. I was doing work I wasn’t certified for, and it was minimum-wage pay,” he said.

Asked if he had a connection to Pelham, Bond answered, “I really don’t have roots. I’ve lived in almost one hundred houses in my life. I have some family in Mexico.”

Bond was in possession of a Mexican driver’s license the day of the accident, which he asserted was “perfectly legal.” He carries a Canadian passport.

Bond said he is sorry for what occurred, and wanted to apologize to the Valleriani family, but, “I talked to the police and they said it was a bad idea. I don’t want to be involved in giving that family any more pain.”

Since his wife died, Bond said he has only Whisky for companionship. But he thinks his dog deserves better than life on the street.

“I think I’m going to drop him off with somebody who’s got a nice stable home.”

Bond had a rambling explanation for why his driver’s license was suspended, and asserts that the police have a “tainted” report of the accident, suggesting that “they came up with the conclusion that the dog was in my lap and distracted me and I swerved.”

He said that he just wants to “hop on a plane and leaving the country,” but knows that incarceration is a very real possibility once the trial is finished. “I’ve been in courts many times in my life, and you never know what’s going to happen,” he said. He asserted that he had never been charged with acts involving violence.

A year since his wife’s passing, Sandy Valleriani still lives in Fonthill. He asked not to be quoted for this article, preferring that the police and the court system be allowed to do their work.

 

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