Tenessa Nikirk has been granted full parole.
Nikirk is serving a two-year sentence from December 2020 for dangerous driving causing bodily harm after striking Saanich girl Leila Bui in a crosswalk. The court also imposed a three-year driving ban.
On Dec. 20, 2017, Bui, then 11, was walking to school when she was struck by a Mercedes SUV driven by Nikirk while in a crosswalk on Ash Road at Torquay Drive. Bui was thrown roughly 25 metres before she was wedged beneath another car stopped some distance from the crosswalk.
A trial later found that Nikirk was driving erratically and had sent and received several texts in the moments before she struck Bui.
Bui was kept in an induced coma for several weeks after the crash and has since remained in a non-responsive state, requiring constant care.
Nikirk was released on bail for a year, pending an appeal of that December 2020 sentence, which was dismissed in January and she returned to custody.
In a decision dated Aug. 19, the Parole Board of Canada reviewed Nikirk’s past driving history, which included a complaint from October 2017 of an aggressive driver tailgating in a vehicle registered to Nikirk. Her file also showed three prior tickets for speeding and four unpaid fines related to administrative suspensions. She also received a speeding ticket in July 2019, after hitting Bui.
After reviewing her previous driving history, the board noted Nikirk had been compliant with all conditions while on bail. Since returning to custody, Nikirk’s parole officer noted during the hearing there have been no concerns with her behaviour in the institution and she has made gains through programs and counselling.
In the decision, the board found Nikirk was “incredibly remorseful and traumatized by the collision” and that she “demonstrates a high level of remorse for the victim.”
While the board considered granting day parole, it did not believe Nikirk needed the additional structure, support and monitoring of a halfway house and that full parole would be a better option.
“The board recognizes that your offence caused catastrophic and life-changing injury to a young girl and altered the course of her family’s life forever. The extent of the harm you caused cannot be overstated. However, the board’s role is not punitive. The board must follow the law, which is to make the least restrictive determination consistent with the protection of society,” read the decision.
Conditions imposed on her parole include attending regular sessions with a mental health professional, no direct or indirect contact with the victim or her family members unless approved by a parole officer, and not to operate a motor vehicle or occupy the driver’s seat of any motor vehicle.
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