Aisha Strange lives with severe brain damage and other injuries after she was struck at an intersection by impaired driver Drake Reynes. Strange can no longer walk, talk or eat and is often in pain as a result of her injuries. (GoFundMe)
Aisha Strange, 20, lives with severe brain damage and other injuries after she was struck at an intersection by impaired driver Drake Reynes. (GoFundMe)

Aisha Strange lives with severe brain damage and other injuries after she was struck at an intersection by impaired driver Drake Reynes. Strange can no longer walk, talk or eat and is often in pain as a result of her injuries. (GoFundMe) Aisha Strange, 20, lives with severe brain damage and other injuries after she was struck at an intersection by impaired driver Drake Reynes. (GoFundMe)

Man vows to never drive impaired again after hit-and-run severely injures B.C. woman

Aisha Strange, then 20, was struck while stopped at an intersection on her scooter

Warning: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing.

The sentencing hearing for the man charged with striking a University of Victoria student with his van while drunk and high on cocaine began in provincial court Monday morning.

Drake Reynes, 27, pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and impaired driving causing bodily harm. A joint submission to Provincial Court Judge Susan Wishart seeks a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence. Crown is also seeking a five-year driving probation, while defence is asking that be limited to three years as Reynes relies on his vehicle to earn an income.

Reynes struck Aisha Strange, then 20, on her scooter in July, 2019. Strange suffered catastrophic brain injuries, fractures to her pelvis and legs, nerve damage and chronic respiratory failure. She is unable to speak and is fed through a tube. Her feet, arms and legs contract regularly, making them unusable, even if she did have control over them. Strange has been either in a bed or wheelchair since that day.

Her father, Kevin Strange, read a victim impact statement from his home in Calgary, where Strange now lives with her parents, receiving near constant care. Through sobs, he told the court what it was like to watch his daughter suffer.

Aisha Strange’s scooter lays in the intersection at Shelbourne Street and McKenzie Avenue, after she was struck by impaired driver Drake Reynes. (Black Press Media file photo)

He described her laying in a hospital bed, staring blankly at the ceiling with a pulse of 130 beats per minute, soaked in sweat.

“I know from too many of these experiences that she’s in pain,” he said. “She has a soiled diaper. Her skin is painfully irritated.”

Kevin described looking away while a nurse cleans her.

“I whisper in her ear that she’s alright. She’s safe. And I’m there for her,” he read. “But I’m feeling sick inside. And I feel like crying because in fact, I wasn’t there.”

READ ALSO: Man charged in Saanich hit and run scheduled to appear in court in October

Kevin described how Strange’s brain injury causes muscle contractions and in two instances she clenched her teeth so hard that she pushed her own teeth out of their sockets.

“Watching these things happen and not being able to do anything about it is indescribable,” he said. “Watching someone you love, suffer day after day while you look on helplessly creates an almost constant, aching emotional pain. I believe that when Drake Reynes crushed my daughter, he also broke my heart.”

Reynes could be heard sobbing from his seat at the front of the Victoria courtroom.

On July 15, 2019, around 7 a.m. – after a night of drinking and consuming cocaine, according to a statement of facts from Crown – Reynes was driving back to his friend’s house when he struck Strange.

She was stopped westbound at an intersection on McKenzie Road on her scooter. She was heading to her job at a summer camp and was wearing a helmet.

“There is no suggestion that Ms. Strange was anything other than in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said prosecutor Paul Pearson.

READ ALSO: Four charges approved in Saanich hit and run that left woman in coma

Witnesses saw Reynes swerving and passing vehicles in a Dodge Caravan while driving northbound on Shelbourne Road.

Reynes attempted to turn right on McKenzie Avenue, overshot the turn and struck Strange on her scooter, as well as another motorist, Luigi Porco.

Reynes then sped east down McKenzie on the wrong side of the road, speeding up to 110 km/h before striking a pole at Larchwood Drive. He fled on foot to a friend’s house, where he called 911 and admitted his involvement.

According to friends at the house, Reynes burst in shouting, “I just killed someone” and “I have to turn myself in.”

Back at the intersection, Porco had bruises and a mild concussion. Strange was alive, but unresponsive. She would be in a coma for months and hospitalized for nearly 300 days, but even that would only be the beginning of a lifelong journey, Kevin said – both for Strange and her family.

“I hope that Mr. Reynes continues to think about his victim long after his sentence has been served because unlike Mr. Reynes’ sentence, my daughter’s is a life sentence,” Kevin said. “I hope and pray [he] spends the rest of his life advocating against drunk driving and is haunted by the memory of what he did to my daughter.”

Strange’s younger sister Nicole told the courts she was on a school trip in Paris when a teacher told her she needed to call her dad. Nicole spent that night crying on the bathroom floor.

“I wanted so much more for my sister than for her greatest accomplishment to be moving her head,” she told the courts.

Her mother, Cathy, told the courts about the emotional impact and the financial burden it has put on the family in order to support Strange and her care. Cathy has had to take extended time off which she worries will lead to her being laid off.

A victim impact statement read on behalf of Strange’s boyfriend stated that he was the last person to see her that day and that he regrets not urging her out the door a little faster.

Reynes addressed the court, repeatedly telling the Strange family how sorry he was.

He spoke about knowing what pain is, referring to losing his father in a car crash when he was eight years old, and promised to never get behind the wheel of a car under the influence again.

The judge’s decision is expected Tuesday.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CrimeSaanichSaanich Police Department

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

Just Posted

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Cariboo Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson speaking in the legislature Monday, May 10. (Video screen shot)
Cariboo Chilcotin MLA calls for rural infrastructure renewal fund

Lorne Doerkson said central parts of rural B.C. devastated by flooding, crumbling infrastructure

(File photo)
Firearms offence at McLeese Lake tree planting camp under RCMP investigation

On May 10 Williams Lake RCMP were called to the camp, located at the 2200 block of Beaver Lake Rd.

Lil Mack has been a member of Cariboo Chilcotin Partners for Literacy since its inception. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Lil Mack of Williams Lake honoured with BC Achievement Community Award

Mack has been an ever-present, quietly powerful literacy force in Williams Lake for several decades

Thompson Rivers University (TRU) announced Tuesday, May 11 that all washrooms on its Kamloops and Williams Lake campuses will have free menstrual products by September. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
TRU to provide free hygiene products in all washrooms by fall 2021

“By signing the United Way’s Promise campaign, TRU aims to reduce barriers facing some students.”

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

Most Read