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

A man sustained burns to his body near this spot around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, April 13 in Courtenay. The fire was left of the pathway. The Station youth housing facility and city public works yard are to the right of the trail. Photo by Terry Farrell
Emergency personnel respond to man on fire in wooded area of Courtenay

A man was badly burned in the early morning hours Tuesday in… Continue reading

This 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 was stolen from Black Creek Motors at approximately 2 a.m. Sunday, April 11. Photos via blackcreekmotors.com
VIDEO: Thieves steal truck from Black Creek car lot by towing it away

Have you seen a 2013 Dodge Ram 1500 in your neighbourhood in… Continue reading

Teresa Hedley and a copy of her book, “What’s Not Allowed? A Family Journey with Autism.” Photo supplied
Comox Library recognizes Autism Awareness Month with presentation by local author

April is World Autism Awareness Month, an annual opportunity to increase understanding… Continue reading

Comox council will further look at a troublesome traffic area in the Point Holmes area of the town. Photo submitted
Comox council to look at speed calming measures at Point Holmes

“…We are waiting for a problem to happen if we don’t act.”

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
19 Wing Comox crew involved in three-tonne cocaine seizure worth more than $293 million

12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron involved in Op Caribbe

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Two men were seen removing red dresses alongside the Island Highway in Oyster Bay. (Submitted photo)
Two men filmed removing red dresses from trees on highway near Ladysmith

Activists hung the dresses to raise awareness for Vancouver Island’s Murdered/Missing Women & Girls

Comox Lake is the drinking water source for the CVRD. Photo supplied
Comox Valley Water Treatment Project nears completion

The Comox Valley Water Treatment Project is more than 85 per cent… Continue reading

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

RCMP on scene yesterday at the altercation at the trailer park. (Submitted photo)
Violent altercation at Port Hardy trailer park sends one to hospital

Police say man confronted another over airsoft shooting, then was attacked with a weapon

Comox council approved a change in fees for using the Comox Municipal Marina, extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31 each year. Black Press file photo
Fee changes, increased costs coming to Comox Municipal Marina

The town will be extending the collection of fees from March 1 to Oct. 31

John Albert Buchanan was found guilty of manslaughter in the 2017 death of Richard Sitar. Pictured here, Buchanan walking to the court in Nanaimo last year. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)
Six years including time served for Nanaimo man in bludgeoning death

John Albert Buchanan sentenced in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo for death of Richard Sitar

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Most Read