On Jan. 27, 2020, a judge will determine the fate of a North Saanich woman charged in connection to a crash that left an 11-year-old girl severely debilitated and non-responsive.
The trial for Tenessa Nikirk, charged with one count of dangerous driving, took place from Nov. 25 to Dec. 3 in the Victoria courthouse. Now 13, Leila Bui has been in a non-responsive state since she was hit by a dark-coloured SUV on her way to school on the morning of Dec. 20, 2017.
Steven Kachanoski, witnessed a motorist strike Bui in a Saanich crosswalk 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.
Another witness described being tailgated by a dark SUV as she drove to work at the University of Victoria that morning. Samantha Etzel testified that the driver 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.”
Adam Cybanski, a velocity expert, examined four dash cam videos provided to him by Saanich police; two from one car that were pointed out the front and the back windows, along with two videos taken from cameras on a bus, which faced out the front and left side.
Using two software programs to track stationary objects such as telephone poles or yellow centre lines in the video, Cybanski was able to create a model match of the scene. A video shown in court on Nov. 27, created by Cybanski, showed yellow and green models superimposed that matched the cars and points of reference in the original footage.
According to Cybanski’s findings, the rear-facing camera in the vehicle showed the SUV accelerating from 50 km/h to 90 km/h and the forward-facing camera showed the SUV accelerating from 95 km/h to 100 km/h. He testified his calculations were accurate within two km/h.
Nirkirk’s defence lawyer asserts that the evidence shows she was driving close to 53 km/h at the point of impact. Tom Morino told the courts on Dec. 3 that Nikirk’s speed was not a departure from the norm citing an engineering report that showed the usual speed of vehicles travelling through that intersection is 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.
Jess Patterson, Crown prosecutor, argued 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.
The judge is scheduled to render her decision on Jan. 27 in Victoria provincial court.
— With files from Nina Grossman