Aisha Strange lives with severe brain damage and other injuries after she was struck at an intersection by impaired driver Drake Reynes. Strange can no longer walk, talk or eat and is often in pain as a result of her injuries. (GoFundMe)
Aisha Strange, 20, lives with severe brain damage and other injuries after she was struck at an intersection by impaired driver Drake Reynes. (GoFundMe)

Aisha Strange lives with severe brain damage and other injuries after she was struck at an intersection by impaired driver Drake Reynes. Strange can no longer walk, talk or eat and is often in pain as a result of her injuries. (GoFundMe) Aisha Strange, 20, lives with severe brain damage and other injuries after she was struck at an intersection by impaired driver Drake Reynes. (GoFundMe)

Man vows to never drive impaired again after hit-and-run severely injures B.C. woman

Aisha Strange, then 20, was struck while stopped at an intersection on her scooter

Warning: This story contains details some readers may find disturbing.

The sentencing hearing for the man charged with striking a University of Victoria student with his van while drunk and high on cocaine began in provincial court Monday morning.

Drake Reynes, 27, pleaded guilty to charges of dangerous driving causing bodily harm and impaired driving causing bodily harm. A joint submission to Provincial Court Judge Susan Wishart seeks a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence. Crown is also seeking a five-year driving probation, while defence is asking that be limited to three years as Reynes relies on his vehicle to earn an income.

Reynes struck Aisha Strange, then 20, on her scooter in July, 2019. Strange suffered catastrophic brain injuries, fractures to her pelvis and legs, nerve damage and chronic respiratory failure. She is unable to speak and is fed through a tube. Her feet, arms and legs contract regularly, making them unusable, even if she did have control over them. Strange has been either in a bed or wheelchair since that day.

Her father, Kevin Strange, read a victim impact statement from his home in Calgary, where Strange now lives with her parents, receiving near constant care. Through sobs, he told the court what it was like to watch his daughter suffer.

Aisha Strange’s scooter lays in the intersection at Shelbourne Street and McKenzie Avenue, after she was struck by impaired driver Drake Reynes. (Black Press Media file photo)

He described her laying in a hospital bed, staring blankly at the ceiling with a pulse of 130 beats per minute, soaked in sweat.

“I know from too many of these experiences that she’s in pain,” he said. “She has a soiled diaper. Her skin is painfully irritated.”

Kevin described looking away while a nurse cleans her.

“I whisper in her ear that she’s alright. She’s safe. And I’m there for her,” he read. “But I’m feeling sick inside. And I feel like crying because in fact, I wasn’t there.”

READ ALSO: Man charged in Saanich hit and run scheduled to appear in court in October

Kevin described how Strange’s brain injury causes muscle contractions and in two instances she clenched her teeth so hard that she pushed her own teeth out of their sockets.

“Watching these things happen and not being able to do anything about it is indescribable,” he said. “Watching someone you love, suffer day after day while you look on helplessly creates an almost constant, aching emotional pain. I believe that when Drake Reynes crushed my daughter, he also broke my heart.”

Reynes could be heard sobbing from his seat at the front of the Victoria courtroom.

On July 15, 2019, around 7 a.m. – after a night of drinking and consuming cocaine, according to a statement of facts from Crown – Reynes was driving back to his friend’s house when he struck Strange.

She was stopped westbound at an intersection on McKenzie Road on her scooter. She was heading to her job at a summer camp and was wearing a helmet.

“There is no suggestion that Ms. Strange was anything other than in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said prosecutor Paul Pearson.

READ ALSO: Four charges approved in Saanich hit and run that left woman in coma

Witnesses saw Reynes swerving and passing vehicles in a Dodge Caravan while driving northbound on Shelbourne Road.

Reynes attempted to turn right on McKenzie Avenue, overshot the turn and struck Strange on her scooter, as well as another motorist, Luigi Porco.

Reynes then sped east down McKenzie on the wrong side of the road, speeding up to 110 km/h before striking a pole at Larchwood Drive. He fled on foot to a friend’s house, where he called 911 and admitted his involvement.

According to friends at the house, Reynes burst in shouting, “I just killed someone” and “I have to turn myself in.”

Back at the intersection, Porco had bruises and a mild concussion. Strange was alive, but unresponsive. She would be in a coma for months and hospitalized for nearly 300 days, but even that would only be the beginning of a lifelong journey, Kevin said – both for Strange and her family.

“I hope that Mr. Reynes continues to think about his victim long after his sentence has been served because unlike Mr. Reynes’ sentence, my daughter’s is a life sentence,” Kevin said. “I hope and pray [he] spends the rest of his life advocating against drunk driving and is haunted by the memory of what he did to my daughter.”

Strange’s younger sister Nicole told the courts she was on a school trip in Paris when a teacher told her she needed to call her dad. Nicole spent that night crying on the bathroom floor.

“I wanted so much more for my sister than for her greatest accomplishment to be moving her head,” she told the courts.

Her mother, Cathy, told the courts about the emotional impact and the financial burden it has put on the family in order to support Strange and her care. Cathy has had to take extended time off which she worries will lead to her being laid off.

A victim impact statement read on behalf of Strange’s boyfriend stated that he was the last person to see her that day and that he regrets not urging her out the door a little faster.

Reynes addressed the court, repeatedly telling the Strange family how sorry he was.

He spoke about knowing what pain is, referring to losing his father in a car crash when he was eight years old, and promised to never get behind the wheel of a car under the influence again.

The judge’s decision is expected Tuesday.


Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email: nina.grossman@blackpress.ca. Follow us on Instagram.
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

CrimeSaanichSaanich Police Department

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kwalikum Secondary School. (SD69 photo)
Schools superintendent says protocols don’t change after COVID-19 exposure at Qualicum Beach high school

Elder: ‘We were assured by the Health Authority that the school is safe’

Tigh-Na-Mara Seaside Spa Resort general manager Paul Drummond, right, and SOS executive director Susanna Newton with some of the gifts left during the resort’s annual Toy Drive. (Peter McCully photo)
Tigh-Na-Mara Toy Drive in Parksville a rousing success

More than 1,200 toys, 16 bikes and $13K in cash/gift cards donated

Nurse Doreen Littlejohn takes a longterm approach in her outreach work with homelessness in Parksville Qualicum Beach, but says more needs to be done now. (Auren Ruvinsky photo)
‘Women face a much different experience on the street’: Parksville Qualicum Beach nurse

Littlejohn says community needs to be part of solution to homelessness

Parksville’s French Creek Harbour experienced a diesel spill on Nov. 23 after a barge and fishing vessel collided. (Mandy Moraes photo)
Coast Guard cleans up diesel spill in Parksville’s French Creek Harbour

Barge carrying fuel truck collides with fishing vessel

Qualicum Beach Memorial Golf Course. (File photo)
Qualicum Beach golf course notified restaurant patron tests positive for COVID-19

Staff to self-monitor until Nov. 28, can continue with daily duties

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. daily COVID-19 cases hits record 941 on Tuesday

Further restrictions on indoor exercise take effect

Krista Macinnis displays the homework assignment that her Grade 6 daughter received on Tuesday. (Submitted photo)
B.C. mom angry that students asked to list positive stories about residential schools

Daughter’s Grade 6 class asked to write down 5 positive stories or facts

B.C. projects targeting the restoration of sockeye salmon stocks in the Fraser and Columbia Watersheds will share in $10.9 million of federal funding to protect species at risk. (Kenny Regan photo)
13 projects protecting B.C. aquatic species at risk receive $11 million in federal funding

Salmon and marine mammals expected to benefit from ecosystem-based approach

Picture of two swans leaving the Cowichan estuary moments before one was shot out of the sky. (Submitted photo)
Petition to stop hunting in Cowichan estuary after swan shot

Hunters blame shooting on illegal poachers

Bob Higgins pulls the gate across on the elevator built inside his home. (Photo by Don Bodger)
Island man’s expertise earns international award with home-built elevator

Experience put to use in winning contest entry for furniture and home projects

Barrels pictured outside Oliver winery, Quinta Ferreira, in May. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
B.C. Master of Wine reflects on industry’s teetering economic state

Pandemic, for some wine makers, has been a blessing in disguise. For others, not so much.

A fentanyl test strip is used at Vancouver Coastal Health in Vancouver, Tuesday, January, 21, 2020. The test strips will be made available to drug users to ensure that their drugs are safe and free of Fentanyl. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Drug overdoses lead to 5 deaths each day in October; drug toxicity continues to increase

COVID-19 crisis continues to exacerbate the overdose crisis

An employee of the Adventure Hotel was taken to hospital on Nov. 20 after she confronted a customer of Empire Coffee about not wearing a mask. File photo.
Nelson hotel employee suffers heart attack after being assaulted in anti-mask incident

An accountant at the Adventure Hotel is in hospital in Kelowna

Damien Smith, with father Thomas Smith, is “frozen” with joy as he watches a special message Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds recorded for Damien’s 9th birthday on Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Contributed)
Shuswap boy celebrates 9th birthday with family, community and Ryan Reynolds

People from around the world send birthday cards showing young Canoe resident he’s not alone

Most Read