(file photo)

A driver who hit an 11-year-old girl with her car in Saanich while speeding and texting has been sentenced to two years in jail.

Tenessa Rayann Lyric Nikirk, a woman from North Saanich who was 21 years old at the time of the incident, was convicted of dangerous driving causing bodily harm on January 27, 2020.

She was found to have been speeding and texting when she struck 11-year-old Leila Bui in a marked crosswalk on December 20, 2017.

The collision left Bui with a severe brain injury, a fractured neck and a ruptured spleen. Three years later, she remains in a vegetative, non-responsive state and is assisted by medical devices attached to a permanent trachea tube.

Bui’s mother, Kairry Nguyen, wrote in a victim impact statement that her daughter has been “cheated” of the experiences of growing up.

“I have cried more in the last 2+ years than I have in my entire life combined and the tears keep coming,” she wrote.

“The life of our daughter has forever changed; the life of our family has forever changed.”

Judge Mayland McKimm noted in his ruling that Nikirk had sent and received 25 text messages over a distance of 5 and 1/3 kilometres.

He also wrote she had been tailgating other drivers, had passed two cars at once exceeding speeds of 95 to 100 km/h in a 50 km/h zone, and performed her pass in a narrow, two-lane road with no shoulders or room to avoid hazards.

In handing down his sentence, Judge McKimm said that the injuries Nikirk inflicted on Bui were permanent and life-altering.

“While she did not cause a death, the most sacred of human values, she caused harm one small step short of that,” he wrote.

“She has destroyed an innocent human being’s life forever.”

McKimm noted that Nikirk was not a prior offender and had a clean driving record, with a low risk to reoffend.

He also wrote that she had offered to undertake restorative justice and to speak to youths in the community about the perils of dangerous driving.

However, McKimm ruled that the case called for a sentence that would deter other potential dangerous drivers from reckless behaviour.

“It is her otherwise good character and remorse that compels me to show restraint and sentence this offender to the lowest of federal sentences, but the highest end of the usual range of sentences,” he wrote.

In addition to the prison sentence, Nikirk is also prohibited from driving for three years after her time in jail is completed.

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