(Photo submitted)

Woman guilty of dangerous driving crash that left Saanich girl, then 11, unresponsive

Nikirk guilty of one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm

The woman charged in the Vancouver Island crash that left then 11-year-old Leila Bui with severe injuries was found guilty Monday morning.

Bui and her family were present in the courtroom. The now 13-year-old girl was in a wheelchair covered by a purple blanket. She barely opened her eyes.

RELATED: Family won’t give up on unresponsive 11-year-old crash victim

On Dec. 20, 2017, Bui was walking to school when she was struck by the driver of a late model Mercedes SUV while in a Saanich crosswalk on Ash Road at Torquay Drive. She was thrown several metres from the crosswalk.

Bui was kept in an induced coma for several weeks after the crash and has since remained in a non-responsive state, requiring constant care.

Tenessa Nikirk has been convicted in one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Bui’s family said they are pleased the court process is coming to an end but the guilty verdict doesn’t change the irrevocable damage done to their daughter and family.

“We’re just happy that it’s over,” said Leila’s mother Kierry Nguyen. “I urge drivers when they’re out there, pay attention, be careful, don’t be on your phone.

“Please don’t let this happen to another child or anybody else, ” she added, breaking into tears. “It’s devastating for the family. Very devastating. And I would never wish it on anyone.”

Bui’s father, Tuan, said Leila would be happy to know she had made a difference.

RELATED: Court hears of motorist’s erratic driving before 11-year-old girl struck in Saanich crosswalk

“If anything good can come out of this, maybe her case will set the bar,” he said. “It will hopefully determine what is harmful driving, what is excessive speeding…Leila would be happy to know she helped change behaviour to prevent this from ever happening again.”

Throughout the trial, the court heard how Nikirk had been speeding, driving erratically and sending and receiving multiple text messages before she hit Bui. The officer who searched her car after the crash found no apparatus that would have hooked up Nikirk’s cellphone to her car for hands-free use.

In his decision Provincial Court Judge Mayland McKimm points to witnesses, dash cam footage and Nikirk’s texting records.

“When the accused approached the intersection and the crosswalk, the evidence establishes that she did not slow down,” he wrote. “The accused was speeding, not paying adequate attention to clearly visible markers at the crosswalk, the child and the stopped vehicles and was engaged in conversations with other parties by way of handheld device.”

McKimm acknowledged that it’s impossible to determine the precise time of the crash and whether Nikirk was texting at the moment of impact – but he wrote that her behaviour indicated “she was engaging in distracting behaviour for some time prior to the moment of impact.”

“She was indeed distracted at the time of the accident,” he wrote. “At minimum, her thoughts were elsewhere.”

RELATED: Lawyer says SUV that hit Leila Bui was going 53 km/h at point of impact



[email protected]

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

New MP Taylor Bachrach makes his first trip to Bella Coola

Bachrach said he is keen to get to know his riding and the members of his constituency

Bachrach rejects calls for police action against demonstrators

Skeena-Bulkley Valley MP says only way out of crisis is “true nation-to-nation” talks

Nuxalk Nation celebrates first carpentry graduates

11 students graduated from the community’s first carpentry program

Bella Coola leave their mark on All Native Basketball Tournament as they reach Intermediate final

Nuxalk Braves bring home a strong second place finish; three individual awards for Marlon Edgar-Apps

All Native Basketball: Finals matchups start to take shape as title games approach

Two Prince Rupert sides in contention, while two dynasties are on the brink

Governor general says multiple solutions needed for ‘complicated’ overdose issue

Julie Payette met at a fire hall with firefighters and police officers as well as politicians and health experts

Violent ends to past Indigenous protests haunt Trudeau government

Trudeau adopted a more assertive tone Friday, insisting the barricade must come down

HIGHLIGHTS: Day one and two at the 2020 BC Winter Games

Athletes had sunny – but cold – weather to work with in Fort St. John

B.C. money laundering inquiry to begin amid hopes for answers, accountability

Eby argued that most B.C. residents already know the previous government, at best, turned a blind eye

Blockades remain in place as Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs returning to B.C.

Hereditary Chief Woos said they are ready to engage in nation-to-nation talks with the B.C.

Tyler Toffoli scores twice, Canucks crush Bruins 9-3

Stecher, Miller each add three points for Vancouver

Zamboni driver, 42, earns NHL win over Maple Leafs

Emergency goalie called into action for Carolina Hurricanes

Landlord ordered to pay $11K after harassing B.C. mom to move days after giving birth

Germaine Valdez was pressured to move just a few days after giving birth by C-section to her child

Most Read