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

Labour Minister Harry Bains addressing Surrey Board of Trade digital meeting Friday. (Screen shot)
Labour Minister says Surrey businesses’ resilience through pandemic ‘impressive’

‘Surrey’s effort in bending the curve has been among the best,’ Harry Bains says

Volunteers from Semiahmoo Secondary joined with members of the Lower Mainland Green Team and the White Rock and South Surrey Naturalists Wednesday to remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park. (Contributed photo)
Students, volunteers remove invasive plants from White Rock’s Ruth Johnson Park

Day-long project a collaboration between city, Lower Mainland Green Team

South Surrey’s Kirk Arsenault has started a new company, Str8laced, that sells cleat wraps that aim to keep athletes’ shoes from coming untied during games and practices. (Contributed photo)
South Surrey sports equipment entrepreneur tying up loose ends before Alberta move

Str8laced wraps keep laces from coming loose in the middle of play, says Kirk Arsenault

Raj Singh Toor (left) with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudea after an official apology for the treatment of Komagata Maru passengers in 1914. (Contributed photo)
Request made for City of White Rock to honour Komagata Maru passengers

Raj Singh Toor confident city will rename ‘street, park or city asset’ in honour of 1914 tragedy

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The driver of a pickup truck failed to stop after knocking down a wooden fence on March 3, 2021. (screen grab)
VIDEO: Footage catches pick-up driver smash fence on Abbotsford/Langley border

Driver came forward after video circulated on social media

Kevin Haughton is the founder/technologist of Courtenay-based Clearflo Solutions. Scott Stanfield photo
Islander aims Clearflo clean drinking water system at Canada’s remote communities

Entrepreneur $300,000 mobile system can produce 50,000 litres of water in a day, via solar energy

Malawian police guard AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines after the shipment arrived in Lilongwe, Malawi, Friday March 5, 2021. Canada is expecting its first shipments of AstraZeneca vaccine next week. (Associated Press/Thoko Chikondi)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 cases climb to 634 Friday, four more deaths

Currently 255 people in hospital, 66 in intensive care

A crashed helicopter is seen near Mt. Gardner on Bowen Island on Friday March 5, 2021. Two people were taken to hospital in serious but stable condition after the crash. (Irene Paulus/contributed)
2 people in serious condition after helicopter goes down on Bowen Island

Unclear how many passengers aboard and unclear where the helicopter was going

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

The Netflix logo on an iPhone. B.C. delayed imposing sales tax on digital services and sweetened carbonated beverages as part of its response to COVID-19. Those taxes take effect April 1, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Matt Rourke
B.C. applies 7% sales tax on streaming, vaping, sweet drinks April 1

Measures from 2020 budget were delayed due to COVID-19

Chief Don Tom of the Tsartlip First Nation was outraged after Green MLA Adam Olsen revealed on social media that the community had been experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak – a fact the First Nation had chosen to keep private to avoid racist backlash as experienced by the Cowichan Tribes when an outbreak was declared there in January. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation ‘outraged’ after Green MLA reveals COVID-19 outbreak

Tsartlip First Nation chief shares concerns about racist backlash, MLA apologizes

A lawyer wears a face mask and gloves to curb the spread of COVID-19 while waiting to enter B.C. Supreme Court, in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. British Columbia’s highest court has sided with the land owner in a dispute over public access to public land. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. high court finds in favour of large landowner in fight over access to pair of lakes

The Nicola Valley Fish and Game Club launched legal action after the cattle company blocked road and trail access

Most Read