(Photo submitted)

(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

Ashnola at the Crossing
Keremeos youth addiction treatment centre to close

Ashnola at the Crossing will be closing its doors permanently on March 31.

Mike Barrett plans to start cycling on March 10 to raise funds for the Unicorn Project school in India. He aims to cycle 13,000 kilometres, with the last stretch traveling from Dehli to Bodhgaya. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)
Penticton retiree to cycle 13,000 km to raise funds for school in India

Mike Barrett hopes to raise at least $5,000 for the school

Hundreds gather in Penticton in June 2020, for the Black Lives Matter protest. (Phil McLachlan, Black Press Media)
Penticton residents fire back at RCMP over right to protests during pandemic

As long as COVID-19 safety measures are maintained, citizens have a right to protest

A group of Penticton residents have planned a protest Friday, March 5, 2020 at Gyro Park to voice their concerns over city council’s refusal to allow a temporary winter shelter to stay open. (Google Maps photo)
Penticton protest to go on despite police warning

Desiree Franz says she’s willing to accept the risk of being fined by RCMP

Penticton Fire Chief Larry Watkinson at the controls of the new Penticton Fire Rescue boat on Skaha Lake Friday afternoon. Firefighter Austin Conquergood is on one of the department's two personal watercraft.
Mark Brett/Western News
Kayaker rescued from Okanagan Lake after falling in and calling 911

The Penticton Fire Department’s Marine Rescue pulled him out suffering from severe cold

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry head for the B.C. legislature press theatre to give a daily update on the COVID-19 pandemic, April 6, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. nears 300,000 COVID-19 vaccinations, essential workers next

564 new cases, four deaths, no new outbreaks Thursday

A man holds a picture of Chantel Moore during a healing gathering at the B.C. Legislature in Victoria on June 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. First Nation demands transparency in probe into second fatal RCMP shooting

‘Police have killed more Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation members than COVID’

An air quality advisory continues in Vernon March 4 due to high levels of dust in the air from winter traction material. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
UPDATE: Dust still hasn’t settled in Vernon, starting to rise in Kelowna

Air quality advisory will last until the next rainfall or until enough street sweeping work is done

Pharmacists will distribute NARCAN nasal sprays at 470 Belleville St. May 1 from 7 a.m. until 6 pm. or until handouts are gone. (Black Press File).
Man brought back to life by North Okanagan RCMP

Victim was not breathing following overdose, until life-saving efforts of police

A B.C. government-run cannabis retail outlet was proposed for a building to be constructed at the Salmon Arm SmartCentres site. (File photo)
Province backs away from plans for Salmon Arm cannabis store

BC Cannabis Store was proposed to be in building to be constructed at shopping centre

Sicamous will have a new locally-owned option for grabbing a bite on the go as the Snacktastic food trailer opened at the start of March. (Kelly Hesleton/Facebook)
Snacktastic offers Sicamous a new dining option

Food trailer owner Dawn Backs grateful for support from family and community

A fire truck and police car park at the entrance to the Foreshore Trail about 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 4 as fire crews respond to a report of a fire farther down the trail and just above the railway tracks, between Lakeshore Road and the tracks. (Martha Wickett-Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm Fire Department quickly extinguishes fire above Foreshore Trail

Blaze started when man’s campfire catches fuel containers on fire

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C. on the COVID-19 situation. (B.C. government)
Dr. Bonnie Henry predicts a ‘post-pandemic world’ for B.C. this summer

‘Extending this second dose provides very high real-world protection to more people, sooner’

The B.C. Supreme Court ruled Feb. 26 that the estate of deceased Sooke man and Hells Angels prospect Michael Widner is to be divided between his wife and his secret spouse. (Black Press Media file photo)
Estate of dead B.C. Hells Angels prospect to be divided between wife, secret spouse

Michael Widner’s 2017 death left a number of unanswered questions

Most Read