Trial begins for woman charged with hitting 11-year-old Saanich girl

WatchThe trial began today for a young woman who was driving an SUV when she allegedly struck an 11-year-old Saanich girl in a crosswalk two years ago.

The trial for a woman who was charged after a Saanich collision that left an 11-year-old girl with brain damage began Monday morning.

Tenessa Nikirk is facing one count of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. Back in Dec. 2017 she allegedly struck Leila Bui with her SUV at Ash Road and Torquay Drive in a crosswalk. 

Tenessa Nikirk outside the Victoria courthouse on Nov. 25, 2019.

Bui was heading to school at the time of the crash. The crosswalk was right outside her home and Bui was left severely disabled after the collision.

On Monday,  the Crown described her injuries as catastrophic and said Nikirk showed a pattern of dangerous driving before the crash.

They say dash-camera footage showed her driving quickly before when passing one driver. According to the Crown, a witness said when she was at a stoplight, she noticed in her rear-view mirror that Nikirk’s head looked like she was texting.

The Crown added that they had evidence showing Nikirk was sending and receiving texts that morning.

The defence said they would be requesting to visit the scene during the trial, to show the steep slope of the hill, which the crosswalk sits on.

The defence went on to say the request follows after they tried to get engineering information from the Municipality of Saanich through a Freedom of Information Act Request, but that documents were hard to obtain and had to go through Saanich’s lawyer.

An expert on Thursday will be brought in by the Crown to analyze the video showing Leila being struck to determine the speed Nikirk was going.

The Crown says Bui was thrown and hit another car.

The driver of that car took the stand Monday afternoon. Steven Kachanoski, who was driving his son to an orthodontist appointment at the time, said “I could tell the car that was coming wasn’t going to stop.”

He said he saw Bui walking a few steps in the crosswalk and shouted something when he realized she was about to be hit. After impact he said “I remember her sliding on her back towards our car.”

Kachanoski said Bui hit his front fender and came to rest beside his driver’s-side door. He said the black SUV didn’t appear to swerve or turn right before the crash and Bui didn’t seem to notice she was about to be hit.

The victim’s parents were in the courtroom, along with Nikirk Monday. The trial is slated to last eight days.

Bui suffered massive brain injuries and faced multiple surgeries following the crash. A GoFundMe raised almost $23,000. 

The crosswalk where Bui was struck was described by people in the neighbourhood as dangerous. Since the crash there have been changes made, including cutting down a tree that was obstructing one side.

The Bui family filed a civil suit against Nikirk and the District of Saanich as well.

The family is seeking damages for the personal injuries, losses and expenses suffered by Leila and the Bui family.

READ MORE: Family of girl left with traumatic brain injury after collision files lawsuit against District of Saanich and driver.

The claim, filed in June 2018, finds fault with the District of Saanich for not maintaining trees that obstruct views of drivers and pedestrians and alleges the district knew the intersection was a hazard previous to Bui’s accident.

The lawsuit also alleges that the driver at fault was negligent by failing to keep the vehicle under control, driving at an unlawful rate of speed, failing to keep a proper lookout and failing to hit the brakes or take evasive action before Bui was hit.

Other allegations in the civil lawsuit include driving under the influence and using an electronic device.

The civil suit lists Bui’s injuries, including a “catastrophic” brain injury, a ruptured spleen, neck injuries, fractured vertebrae and rib fractures. None of the allegations in the statement of claim have been proven in court.

Julian KolsutJulian Kolsut

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!