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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

The BC CDC data for Jan. 3-9. (BC CDC Photo)
Golden adds 7 cases in first week of 2021; BC CDC

The numbers are down from 14 the week before

Justin Kripps of Summerland and his team have competed in Olympic action and World Cup competitions in bobsleigh. (Jason Ransom-Canadian Olympic Comittee).
QUIZ: Are you ready for some winter sports?

It’s cold outside, but there are plenty of recreation opportunities in the winter months

A map released by the BCCDC on Jan. 15 shows the number of new COVID-19 cases reported for each local health area between Jan. 3 and 9. (BCCDC Image)
Salmon Arm and Vernon see increase in new COVID cases, curve flattening elsewhere

The rate of new cases is levelling off in Kelowna, Penticton and Revelstoke.

A juvenile sturgeon in a B.C. rearing facility. The wild population in the Upper Columbia is estimated at 1,100 individuals, enhanced with roughly 5,500 hatchery fish. (file photo)
B.C.’s Upper Columbia sturgeon endure long battle with local extinction

Decades of monitoring and intervention is ongoing to save the prehistoric fish

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C. adjusts COVID-19 vaccine rollout for delivery slowdown

Daily cases decline over weekend, 31 more deaths

Interior Health confirms vaccination of priority populations has begun in Salmon Arm. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccinations underway in Salmon Arm

Interior Health confirms vaccination of priority populations has begun

This is the location, 3240 Skaha Lake Road, of where BC Housing plans to build a four storey supportive housing project for the homeless and at risk of being homeless. (Jesse Day Western News)
Penticton mayor and MLA concerned about new BC Housing project

‘Penticton already has its fair share’ of BC Housing projects

Interior Health declared the COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place long term care home over Monday, Jan. 18, 2020. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at McKinney Place care home declared over

‘This has been one of our most challenging outbreaks so far,’ says chief medical health officer

Penticton Bylaw officer Glenn Smith, as well as resident Zak Laycock (not pictured), received the Governor General Award from the Royal Canadian Humane Association to recognize their heroism in a summer 2019 incident. (Contributed)
Bylaw officer and Penticton resident given awards for intervening in sexual assault

Bylaw officer Glenn Smith said he was simply in the right place at the right time

Sunnybank
COVID-19 related deaths at Oliver, West Kelowna and Vernon senior care homes

Sunnybank, Heritage Retirement Residence and Noric House recorded deaths over the weekend

Hillview Elementary students Emma Li and Mina Nadeau were awarded by the Premier’s office for winning the annual holiday card contest. (Karen Rogers photo)
North Okanagan students’ art featured on Premier’s cards

Hillview youth chosen for annual holiday card contest

A female prisoner sent Langford police officers a thank-you card after she spent days in their custody. (Twitter/West Shore RCMP)
Woman gives Victoria-area jail 4.5-star review in handwritten card to police after arrest

‘We don’t often get thank you cards from people who stay with us, but this was sure nice to see’: RCMP

An elk got his antlers caught up in a zip line in Youbou over the weekend. (Conservation Officer Service Photo)
Elk rescued from zip line in Youbou on Vancouver Island

Officials urge people to manage items on their property that can hurt animals

Most Read