Tuan Bui and Kairry Nguyen, parents of Leila Bui, speak outside the courtroom after the woman who hit their daughter in a Saanich crosswalk in 2017 was sentenced to two years in prison. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Tuan Bui and Kairry Nguyen, parents of Leila Bui, speak outside the courtroom after the woman who hit their daughter in a Saanich crosswalk in 2017 was sentenced to two years in prison. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

Distracted driver who hit girl in crosswalk will spend Christmas behind bars

Woman who left Saanich’s Leila Bui with catastrophic brain injuries sentenced to two years in prison

Three years and one day since Saanich girl Leila Bui was struck in a crosswalk and left with catastrophic brain injuries, the driver who hit her was sentenced to two years in federal prison.

On Monday morning Tenessa Nikirk, 27, sat behind her lawyer and dabbed at her eyes as Provincial Court Judge Mayland McKimm read through the facts of the case.

On Dec. 20, 2017, Leila, then 11, was walking to school when she was struck by a Mercedes SUV driven by Nikirk while in a crosswalk on Ash Road at Torquay Drive. Leila was thrown several metres.

It was later found that Nikirk was driving erratically and had sent and received several texts in the moments before she struck Leila.

The child was kept in an induced coma for several weeks after the crash and has since remained in a non-responsive state, requiring constant care. In his decision, McKimm detailed the extent of Leila’s injuries, telling the court that the right side of Leila’s brain is entirely destroyed and the left side is seriously compromised.

Leila Bui remains in an unresponsive state more than two years since she was struck in a Saanich crosswalk. The now 13-year-old was in court when a guilty verdict was read for Tenessa Nikirk, the woman who struck her. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)

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

“Three years later, she remains in a vegetative state,” he said. “While she can generally breathe on her own she regularly requires the assistance of medical devices that are attached to a permanent trachea tube. She is non-responsive.

“The family of this child has been forever damaged by the accused’s criminal behavior.”

In January, Nikirk was convicted of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Her two-year sentence will be followed by a three-year driving ban.

Huddled beneath an umbrella outside the courtroom, Leila’s parents said the sentence brings some relief.

“The only good thing that came out of this is this sentencing,” said Kairry Nguyen, Leila’s mother. “We want to teach … the next person that gets into a car and thinks about texting or speeding [to know] this is what can happen.”

Nguyen said the family is focusing on the time they have with Leila.

“As long as she’s with us, and she’s healthy and we’re advocating for all her needs … just to have her with us – it’s the most important thing.”

Tuan Bui, Leila’s father, applauds the judge’s decision.

“We’re glad that it’s over,” he said. “It’s finally over. And now we focus on the remedies for Leila that so that she can have a quality life going forward.”

In his decision, McKimm noted that Nikirk has shown remorse and volunteered restorative justice – factors he said he considered in his sentence. The maximum sentence for dangerous driving causing bodily harm is 10 years.

“Driving is a privilege that can wreak great havoc when it is exercised recklessly,” he said. “Accordingly, sentences for dangerous driving must unambiguously express society’s condemnation of the conduct and serve to warn like-minded others that it will not be tolerated.”

McKimm swiftly shut down a request from Nikirk’s lawyer that his client be given a few days to make arrangements before beginning her sentence.

“No. I have anguished about that. I have thought about that,” he said. “There is a child who will never have Christmas.”

RELATED: Driver guilty in Saanich crash that left 11-year-old with catastrophic brain injuries


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.

car crashCrime

Just Posted

Things are looking up for Vancouver Island as zero COVID-19 cases have been reported for the first time since October. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Island records zero new COVID-19 cases for the first time since October

For the first time since October, the province is reporting zero new… Continue reading

Black Press Media file
Port Hardy RCMP on the hunt for porta-pottie arsonist

The porta-potties were lit on fire early in the morning on June 13

Eke Me-Xi students enjoy a field trip to Malcolm Island. (Submitted photos)
Eke Me-Xi Learning Centre takes field trip to Malcolm Island

Once at Bere Point, students made themselves at home in the day-use area

Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair logo
Mount Waddington Regional Fall Fair cancelled again due to COVID-19 restrictions

The 2022 fall fair is still scheduled to take place in Port Hardy

North Island Gazette
EDITORIAL: What to do about homelessness in Port Hardy

‘people suffering from homelessness deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion’

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Karl and Stephanie Ann Johanson were thrilled to spot a pair of Sandhill Cranes in the Panama Flats this month, an unusual appearance for such birds. (Photo by Stephanie Ann Johanson)
WATCH: Sandhill cranes an unusual, joyful sight in South Island parkland

These birds don’t often touch down on their way between northern B.C. and Mexico

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

(V.I. Trail/Google Maps)
Now 90% complete, Vancouver Island trail forges new funding parnership

Victoria Foundation takes on Vancouver Island Trail Association; fund valued at $40,000

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Freighters have becomd abundant in the Trincomali Channel on the east side of Thetis Island.
Nanaimo ponders taking on waste from nearby anchored freighters

Vancouver-based Tymac petitioning the Regional District of Nanaimo to accept waste at its landfill

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

Most Read