The trial for the North Saanich woman charged in the crash that severely injured 11-year-old Leila Bui started Monday. Bui suffered severe brain damage and internal injuries when she was struck in a Saanich crosswalk in December 2017. (GoFundMe)

The trial for the North Saanich woman charged in the crash that severely injured 11-year-old Leila Bui started Monday. Bui suffered severe brain damage and internal injuries when she was struck in a Saanich crosswalk in December 2017. (GoFundMe)

Court hears of motorist’s erratic driving before girl hit in Vancouver Island crosswalk

Trial starts for driver that left Leila Bui with severe brain damage, internal injuries

Warning: This story contains disturbing details.

A man who witnessed a motorist strike 11-year-old Leila Bui in a Saanich crosswalk nearly two years ago says he watched the little girl get thrown towards his car before sliding, on her back, and coming to rest next to his driver’s side door.

North Saanich woman Tenessa Nikirk faces one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm in relation to the crash that left Bui severely debilitated, with severe brain injuries and multiple internal injuries. Nikirk was in a Victoria courtroom Monday for the first day of trial. She dabbed at her eyes as witnesses came forward.

RELATED: Charge laid in Saanich crash that severely injured 11-year-old girl

On the morning of Dec. 20, 2017, Steven Kachanoski was taking his son to an orthodontist appointment. He says he was driving west on Ash Road when he noticed a little girl entering the crosswalk near Torquay Drive, and a dark-coloured SUV coming from the opposite direction.

“I pretty quickly noticed the oncoming car wasn’t stopping,” Kachanoski told the courtroom. “At that point I started to brake to stop. I witnessed the vehicle [that was] coming towards me in the other lane hit the girl.”

Kachanoski couldn’t say if the driver of the SUV had been speeding – but he says he was confident they weren’t going to stop for the girl in the intersection.

“She was thrown towards our car, I remember her sliding on her back…she did hit the lower front fender of our car, she was sliding towards [me] on her back and she ended up near the driver’s side door.”

Scared to further injure her, Kachanoski called 911 and crawled out the passenger side door as people ran over to help, also calling emergency services.

RELATED: Leila Bui returns home to Gordon Head after six months

Another witness described being tailgated by a dark SUV as she drove to work at the University of Victoria that morning.

Samantha Etzel says she was driving a little slower than usual because there was frost on the roads. She says the driver of a black or dark SUV was following her so closely she couldn’t see the front of the car.

“I seen the driver constantly looking up and down as if they were texting,” she told the court. “It was a female driver, she had her hair up, sort of in a bun.”

Once she turned onto Ash Road, the driver of the SUV passed her. It wasn’t until she reached Torquay Drive that she saw the vehicle again – this time pulled to the side of the road. Etzel recalls seeing a young girl’s sneaker or sock laying in the intersection and realizing what had happened.

Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since the morning she was struck on her walk to school. Now 13, the young girl’s family remains hopeful – but says their lives are changed irrevocably.

“I didn’t really want to hear any of this stuff at the beginning,” says Bui’s mother, Kairry Nguyen. “I was more focused on Leila and her recovery. I knew she got hit, I didn’t know she got hit that hard.”

RELATED: One year later, life is much different in Saanich for the Bui family

And Bui’s health is still at risk. Earlier this year she was hospitalized due to complications from a shunt that had been placed in her head to drain fluids from her brain.

“That was a very scary time for her and of course for us,” Nguyen says. “It was kind of like the accident happening all over again. They weren’t sure if she was going to pull through.”

Bui survived the infection and is now shunt-free, but the little girl remains non-responsive and needs constant care.

“It happened so fast and it changed all of our lives,” Nguyen says through tears. “Our little girl, she’s there but she’s still not there.”

Bui’s father Tuan says the family relies on faith and hope, and the belief that their daughter will come back.

“It’s hard to know what’s happening inside her,” he says. “So we just continue to take good care of her, give her love and support and positive energy and whatever it takes to get one step closer.”

The family has filed civil law suits against Nikirk and the District of Saanich.



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Follow us on Instagram
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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

Just Posted

City of Fernie city hall. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Speed boards proposed for Fernie

Mayor Qualizza floated the idea to councillors at the most recent Committee of the Whole

Environmental groups are calling for a federal impact assessment for a proposed coal mine expansion in the Elk Valley. Phil McLachlan photo.
Castle Project now known as FRO-X

Teck said the previous name was causing confusion

The Fernie Chamber of Commerce hosted this year's virtual 2020 Business Awards. (File Photo)
If there’s a risk, IH will take the lead: Fernie Chamber

Rumours about businesses and COVID numbers are doing damage to sectors already hurting according to Brad Parsell

A black bear spotted near Fernie in 2020. (Scott Tibballs / The Free Press)
Bear sightings above average in Fernie area in 2020

A long and cold spring, less food, more people at home and more hikers could explain the increase

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Vernon's Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with an influenza outbreak amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (File photo)
Two more deaths at Vernon care home

Noric House case numbers remain steady, but death toll rises

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

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

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read