(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



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

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

Central Cariboo Search and Rescue recruiting new members

Anyone interested in learning more is invited to an upcoming open house

COLUMNS: School reopening plan receives a failing grade

MLA Donna Barnett said the official opposition is demanding clarity

Williams Lake and District 4-H live auction takes place Monday, Aug. 10

District 4-H vice-president said he’s hopeful the community will show its support

Williams Lake RCMP investigating break and enter in Miocene

A large amount of items were stolen from a family home

Wheels in motion for mountain biking trail project near Clinton

Project to provide immediate employment while resulting in new trail on Jesmond Mountain

Lawsuit launched after Florida child handcuffed, booked and briefly jailed

Suit alleges “deliberate indifference” to what should have been handled as a behavioural issue

Russia approves vaccine, Putin hopes to begin mass production

Critic calls decision to proceed without thorough testing ‘dangerous and grossly immoral’

Man, 54, charged in connection with fatal attack of Red Deer doctor

Doctor was killed in his walk-in clinic on Monday

Doctor slain in Alberta medical clinic was devoted father, husband

Red Deer doctors on edge after attack on colleague who had two young daughters

Royal B.C. Museum wants B.C.’s COVID-19 nature observations

COVID-19 Collecting For Our Time: ongoing project cataloguing province’s pandemic experience

Feds offer ‘life preserver’ funds to BC Ferries as pandemic sinks revenue

For every dollar the province spends the federal government will match

Bad behaviour at B.C. restaurants ignites campaign calling for respect

“If you can’t follow the rules, then stay home,” says BC Restaurant and Foodservices Association

Over half of Americans oppose Trump tariff on Canadian aluminum: survey

The survey was conducted Aug. 7 to 9 among 1,513 Canadians and 1,003 Americans

Most Read