A new survey finds Saanich residents feel less safe when using local roads, a perception likely shaped by incidents like the December 2017 collision on Ash Road that has left now 12-year-old girl Leila Bui in an unresponsive state.

VIDEO: Lawyer says SUV that hit Leila Bui was going 53 km/h at point of impact

Dash-cam footage shows moments just before Saanich girl was struck

The defence lawyer for the North Saanich woman charged in relation to a crash that left an 11-year-old girl severely debilitated and non-responsive, told the courts on Tuesday during final submissions that the evidence presented over the past week shows she was going close to 53 km/h at the point of impact.

Tenessa Nikirk is charged with one count of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm after Leila Bui was hit on Dec. 20, 2017 while in a crosswalk at the intersection of Ash Road and Torquay Drive in Saanich while on her way to school.

Tom Morino said her speed was not a departure from the norm citing an engineering report that showed the usual speed of vehicles travelling through that intersection was around 50 km/h.

At the time of the crash, a text message came in on Nikirk’s phone but no evidence was presented to show whether she had opened it or not, along with no evidence to show if she was using the hands-free feature on her device.

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

“Even if you accept she’s got her phone is her hands, she’s pushing buttons as she’s driving down the road that is — in my respectful submission — not taking it to the level of dangerous,” said Morino, suggesting a momentary distraction was a better classification.

Jess Patterson, Crown prosecutor, asserts that Nikirk was engaged in a texting conversation prior to the crash because she was responding quickly to the messages. Nikirk’s phone was not seized at the time of the crash.

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

“Even if your honour were to accept that [Nikirk] was travelling the speed limit when she entered the crosswalk, that doesn’t mean it’s not dangerous,” said Patterson.

Judge Mayland McKimm said he could see Morino’s point. At one point wondering aloud if holding a phone is “really any different than changing the radio or navigation [controls],” but adding that if someone is walking across the road, leisurely, in front of traffic — “that doesn’t mean you can just run them down because you’re travelling the speed limit.”

RELATED: Velocity expert testifies SUV sped up to 90 km/h ahead of crash that left Saanich girl unresponsive

Last week an expert in calculating the velocity of vehicles from video described how the SUV Nikirk was driving — which was caught on dash-cam footage — accelerated to more than 90 km/h as it passed another vehicle, heading towards the intersection where Bui was struck.

Dash-cam footage released to the media shows a dark coloured SUV passing on a solid yellow line at the six second mark and driving up the road in front of the two vehicles. Almost 50 seconds later the driver comes to the intersection and the SUV can be seen parked on the side of the road as people from nearby houses rush to the scene.

Court also heard from a number of witnesses who recounted Nikirk’s erratic driving just before the crash. Steven Kachanoski witnessed the crash and told the courts 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.

Myla Bui snuggles with her sister Leila.(GoFundMe)

Samantha Etzel also testified last week that she was driving a little slower than usual that day 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, adding that she watched the driver “constantly looking up and down as if they were texting.”

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.

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

The next expected court date is to fix a date for verdict.

With files from Nina Grossman



kendra.crighton@blackpress.ca

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

Just Posted

Oak Bay Police welcome former Langford firefighter as newest officer

New position marks return to the Island for Const. Jenn Berkley

Latke Mania returns to Jewish Community Centre of Victoria

Traditional latkes available at local deli until Dec. 20

Greater Victoria residents recognized for International Volunteer Day

Thousands of people volunteer throughout the community every year

Local LGBTQ+ advocate welcomes Sidney’s decision to recognize Pride Week

Sidney announced its decision in the Town’s updated strategic plan

New survey finds 4.7 million women over 15 were victims of sexual assault in Canada

Some 1.2 million men (eight per cent) report having been sexually assaulted since age 15

POLL: Will you be donating to charities over the holiday season?

Many here in Victoria joined others around the world to take part… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 3

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Oscar Hickes: Longest running hockey tournament on Vancouver Island cancelled

Patrick Murray, one of the organizers for the tournament, broke the sad news on social media.

Illicit drug deaths down, but B.C. coroner says thousands still overdose

Chief coroner Life Lapointe says province’s drug supply remains unpredictable

Trustees ask for more help after tearful meeting on B.C. school’s ‘toxic’ stench

Enforcement has ‘no teeth,’ school trustee says, while kids become sick

One of B.C’s last surviving strip clubs baring all again for Christmas charity

25th annual event is Sunday and raises money for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society.

Most Read