British Columbia

Woman who was texting and speeding found guilty of dangerous driving after hitting B.C. child

Tenessa Nikirk's phone records show she sent 11 messages in the 15 minutes before she struck an 11-year-old girl with her car in a marked crosswalk on Dec. 20, 2017.

Tenessa Nikirk sent 11 messages in the 15 minutes before the 2017 crash in Saanich

Tenessa Nikirk was found guilty Monday of dangerous driving causing bodily harm. (Peter Scobie/CBC)

A B.C. driver who struck and grievously injured an 11-year-old girl while texting and speeding through a Saanich neighbourhood has been found guilty of dangerous driving causing bodily harm.

Tenessa Rayann Lyric Nikirk's phone records show she sent 11 messages in the 15 minutes before she struck Leila Bui with her car in a marked crosswalk on Dec. 20, 2017, according to a judgment handed down Monday in B.C. provincial court.

Witness testimony and dash cam video showed that Nikirk was tailgating and passing other vehicles at speeds of up to 100 kilometres per hour — double the local speed limit — before the crash.

"The accused was speeding, not paying adequate attention to clearly visible markers at the crosswalk, the child and the stopped vehicles, and was engaged in conversations with other parties by way of a handheld electronic device. Because of that, she failed to see that which is plainly there to be seen," Judge Mayland McKimm wrote as he found Nikirk guilty.

The force of the collision sent Bui flying through the air and then sliding on the street for about 25 metres before she became wedged under another vehicle, the judgment shows.

The crash left Bui with severe brain damage, a broken neck and a lacerated spleen. She has been in a non-responsive state since the collision.

Bui's mother, Kairry Nguyen, said she's happy the trial is over, but still would like to know that Nikirk regrets her actions.

"I think I would feel better if she just approached us and said 'I'm sorry,' and felt genuinely sorry. That would be enough for me," Nguyen told reporters outside the court.

Nikirk's defence team argued that the collision was inevitable, and that Nikirk couldn't see the girl before she hit her. But the judge said he was satisfied that the child would have been clearly visible if Nikirk had been paying attention.

Nikirk, who is in her early 20s, is scheduled to make her next appearance in court on Feb. 4 to fix a date for sentencing.

With files from Adam van der Zwan

now