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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

FAR celebrates summer opening

The mountain is now open to hikers, bikers and sightseers who want some terrain to explore

Fernie seniors celebrate graduation with a reverse parade

Hundreds of locals turned up to congratulate the seniors on their graduation

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Province releases report on Columbia River Treaty public feedback

Reservoir levels, fair compensation for impacted communities, among many issues raised

Environmental organizations call for federal assessment of Teck mine expansion

Environmental groups are urging the federal government to designate a proposed coal… Continue reading

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

VIDEO: Prince William and Kate chat with B.C. hospital staff about COVID-19

Seven-minute video posted to Youtube on Canada Day

River centre says heavy rains could bring flooding to central, northeastern B.C.

Water levels are already unusually high and river banks can be extremely unstable

Most Read