(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

Kelowna RCMP arrest alleged impaired driver

The driver is facing potential charges after power pole collision

West Kelowna Warriors host Trail Smoke Eaters

The Warriors are coming from a Saturday loss against the Vernon Vipers

UBCO announces new top boss for Okanagan campus

Lesley Cormack will start in the position this summer

Nine West Kelowna athletes to go to B.C. Winter Games

The athletes will compete in biathlon and cross country ski

Kelowna Toyota to attempt to break Guinness World Record for most stickers on a car

The event is being held to raise money for the Kelowna and West Kelowna fire departments

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

B.C. budget expected to stay the course as economic growth moderates

Finance minister said ICBC costs have affected budget

South Okanagan mountain bore racist name for a half century

Nkawala Mountain was initially named in connection with the deaths of two black men.

Monday marks one-year anniversary of man missing from Langley

42-year-old B.C. man, Searl Smith, was last seen leaving Langley Memorial Hospital on Feb. 17, 2019

BC Ferries sailings filling up Family Day Monday

More than 20 sailings added between Swartz Bay and Tsawwassen for long weekend

Amtrak warns of delays as railways from Seattle to B.C. blocked by Wet’suwet’en supporters

Coastal GasLink said it’s signed benefits agreements with all 20 elected band councils along pipeline route

Federal emergency group meets on pipeline protests as rail blockades continue

There’s mounting political pressure for Trudeau to put an end to the blockades

VIDEO: Minister reports ‘modest progress’ after blockade talks with First Nation

Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say Coastal GasLink does not have authority to go through their lands

B.C. man released from quarantined cruise ship in Japan

Because Spencer Fehrenbacher has American citizenship, he was evacuated by the U.S.

Most Read