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

Nanaimo RCMP are looking for Peter Ludvigson who is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant. (Photo submitted)
Nanaimo man wanted, police say he violated terms of his release

Warrant out for 45-year-old Peter Ludvigson

Nanaimo’s Fiddelium fiddle ensemble, seen here at a fiddle workshop with visiting instructors Gordon Stobbe and J.J. Guy this summer, is recording its first album. (Photo courtesy Trish Horrocks)
Nanaimo youth fiddle ensemble Fiddelium recording first album

Fiddlers recording their parts one at a time in observance of COVID-19 safety

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man with alleged stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Emergency crews were called to a three-vehicle crash Monday morning on the old Island Highway close to Rock City Road. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Car, pickup and semi truck crash along the highway in Nanaimo

Incident happened in front of Rock City Plaza on Monday morning

People skate on a lake in a city park in Montreal, Sunday, January 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
The end of hugs: How COVID-19 has changed daily life a year after Canada’s 1st case

Today marks the one year anniversary of COVID-19 landing in Canada

Emergency crews were called to a three-vehicle crash Monday morning on the old Island Highway close to Rock City Road. (Greg Sakaki/News Bulletin)
Car, pickup and semi truck crash along the highway in Nanaimo

Incident happened in front of Rock City Plaza on Monday morning

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read