Tenessa Nikirk, the woman who was driving and hit then-11-year-old Leila Bui, leaving her with life-altering injuries, has been granted full parole with conditions.
Nikirk was found guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm after she struck Bui in the crosswalk on Ash Road at the intersection of Torquay Drive on the morning of Dec. 20, 2017. The crash left Bui with severe brain damage.
The conditions of her parole include that she has to attend regular sessions with a mental health professional, she is not permitted to drive and she is not allowed to be in contact with Bui or the family.
The parole board noted that before this case, Nikirk did not have a criminal record, but she had previously been sent a warning letter that someone driving a vehicle registered in her name was driving aggressively and tailgating, and she had three prior driving violations for speeding and four unpaid fines related to administrative suspensions.
Additionally, she received a speeding ticket in July 2019, after the crash where she hit Bui.
The parole board rates Nikirk’s accountability and motivation, as well as her reintegration potential as high.
“Your file states that you are incredibly remorseful and traumatized by the collision and that you demonstrate a high level of remorse for the victim,” the parole decision says.
In the parole hearing, Nikirk’s family, her partner and her institutional parole officer support of full parole.
During the parole hearing, Nikirk testified that the time leading up to the crash was stressful.
“You spoke about your mother’s relationship with an abusive partner and how this instilled fear, uncertainty and disruption. Together with your mother and siblings, you relocated, changed telephone numbers, and took other safety precautions,” the parole ruling says. “You describe being distressed and feeling like you had to be available to your mother constantly by text. You admitted to driving ‘aggressively’ and ‘arrogantly’, texting by voice activation, and not paying attention.”
The ruling notes that Nikirk referred to the crash as an “accident.”
“The Board corrected you, explaining that this was not an ‘accident’ – you made choices, your behaviour was extremely reckless, and you caused this collision with a pedestrian,” the ruling says. “You agreed and expressed deep regret for your actions.”
The ruling says Nikirk understands the various options available, including day parole, but that she says full parole would be better for her.
“The Board recognizes that your offence caused catastrophic and life-changing injury to a young girl and altered the course of her family’s life forever. The extent of the harm you caused cannot be overstated,” the ruling says. “However, the Board’s role is not punitive. The Board must follow the law, which is to make the least restrictive determination consistent with the protection of society.”
Her plans are to live in the lower mainland with her mother and her partner.
Leila Bui’s mother says the family wasn’t notified of Nikirk’s parole hearing or the decision.
“Just surprised, disappointed, and unhappy that we were not informed of this or given the opportunity to express our feelings on the matter before she was granted full parole,” Kairrie Nguyen told CHEK News Monday.
Nikirk was first sentenced to two years in prison in December 2020, but later appealed the sentence. While the appeal was waiting to be heard, she was released on bail. A judge dismissed the appeal in January of this year and she was required to return to prison.
Dashcam footage along Ash Road, used in court during the trial in 2019, shows Nikirk driving just moments before hitting Leila. Nikirk crossed the yellow line, passing two cars at once.
Nikirk was going more than 100 kilometres an hour in a 50 km/h zone and had sent 18 text messages in the 24 minutes before hitting Leila.
-With files from CHEK’s April Lawrence, Jeff Lawrence, Rebecca Lawrence, Jasmine Bala, and Mary Griffin