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

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

Just Posted

Mackenzie Cox representing the first Black Shirt Day at North Island Secondary. (Zoe Ducklow Photo)
Port McNeill Grade 12 student observes Black Shirt Day for anti-racism

‘Wearing that colour T-shirt for that day is a commitment to show that we care.’

Port McNeill council file photo. (Tyson Whitney - North Island Gazette)
Port McNeill council approves utility fees increase

The fees cover the three major services the town provides; water, solid waste and sewage.

Black Press media file
RCMP catch alleged drunk driver

The driver provided breathalyzer samples in excess of 3.5 times the legal limit.

Keith the curious kitten is seen on Nov. 4, 2020 at the Chilliwack SPCA. Friday, Jan. 22, 2021 is Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Jan. 17 to 23

Answer Your Cat’s Questions Day, Pie Day and International Sweatpants Day are all coming up this week

JaHyung Lee, “Canada’s oldest senior” at 110 years old, received his first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021. He lives at Amenida Seniors Community in Newton. (Submitted photo: Amenida Seniors Community)
A unique-looking deer has been visiting a Nanoose Bay property with its mother. (Frieda Van der Ree photo)
A deer with 3 ears? Unique animal routinely visits B.C. property

Experts say interesting look may be result of an injury rather than an odd birth defect

Sooke’s Jim Bottomley is among a handful of futurists based in Canada. “I want to help people understand the future of humanity.” (Aaron Guillen - Sooke News Mirror)
No crystal ball: B.C. man reveals how he makes his living predicting the future

63-year-old has worked analytical magic for politicians, car brands, and cosmetic companies

Terry David Mulligan. (Submitted photo)
Podcast: Interview with longtime actor/broadcaster and B.C. resident Terry David Mulligan

Podcast: Talk includes TDM’s RCMP career, radio, TV, wine, Janis Joplin and much more

Seasonal influenza vaccine is administered starting each fall in B.C. and around the world. (Langley Advance Times)
After 30,000 tests, influenza virtually nowhere to be found in B.C.

COVID-19 precautions have eliminated seasonal infection

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Friday, January 8, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau says Canada’s COVID vaccine plan on track despite Pfizer cutting back deliveries

Canadian officials say country will still likely receive four million doses by the end of March

Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon shared a handwritten note his son received on Jan. 13, 2021. (Ravi Kahlon/Twitter)
Proud dad moment: B.C. minister’s son, 10, receives handwritten note for act of kindness

North Delta MLA took to Twitter to share a letter his son received from a new kid at school

Lilly and Poppy, two cats owned by Kalmar Cat Hotel ownder Donna Goodenough, both have cerebellAr hypoplasia, a genetic neurological condition that affects their ability to control their muscles and bones. Photo by Alistair Taylor – Campbell River Mirror
VIDEO: Wobbly Cats a riot of flailing legs and paws but bundles of love and joy to their owner

Woman urges others to not fear adopting cats with disabilities

Most Read