VISTA — A Carlsbad woman has been sentenced to 90 days in county jail and 90 days of home detention for fatally striking a mother who was riding an e-bike with her toddler daughter in 2022.
The driver, 43-year-old Linsday Turmelle, appeared in Vista Superior Court for sentencing on Thursday. Turmelle was charged with misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter after striking and killing 35-year-old Christine Embree at the intersection of Basswood Avenue and Valley Street in Carlsbad in August 2022.
Embree was riding an e-bike with her 16-month-old daughter, Delilah, who was strapped to her and equipped with a helmet. The toddler survived without injury despite being thrown from her mother’s e-bike, but Embree died the following day at the hospital.
A 9-month investigation by the CPD Traffic Division and California Highway Patrol’s Multidisciplinary Accident Investigation Team revealed that Turmelle had rolled through a stop sign at the intersection and was not looking at the road at the time of the collision, according to Deputy District Attorney Kaleb Fulbright.
Turmelle originally pleaded not guilty to the charge last summer before changing her plea in the fall, avoiding a jury trial.
At the emotional sentencing hearing, Turmelle apologized to Embree’s family through tears and said she had been consumed by guilt and sorrow since the incident.
“I see the beautiful outpouring of love for Christine on the corner of Basswood and Valley Street every day of my life. She is not out of my sight; she is not out of my mind. Your family is not out of my mind,” Turmelle said. “The fact that I took the life of someone in my community is even more devastating. To think I have caused so much pain and suffering for your family is almost unbearable, and I am so sorry.”
Turmelle also said that she has been visiting driving schools to share her experience in hopes of convincing others to always pay attention on the road.
Around 30 family members and friends were also present in the courtroom to support Turmelle. Embree’s family members were present as well, with her mother, father and sister sharing impact statements with the court.
Fulbright read aloud a letter from Bob Embree, Christine’s husband, pleading with the judge to impose the maximum penalty. The widowed father said he is already haunted by his wife’s final hours and did not want to be further haunted by seeing the driver responsible in person.
“Delilah will never know her mother, who loved her so much and put her first in every situation,” he said. “For me personally, I lost my best friend and life partner. I lost my rock, the person I loved more than anyone else, my adventure partner, and the person who motivated me to be my best.”
Joseph Hawk, Embree’s father, said she was a “beautiful soul,” called Delilah a “miracle baby,” and said their family would make sure to keep her mother’s memory alive. He also stunned Turmelle by stating that he forgives her.
“I forgive you, and I encourage you, in time, to forgive yourself as well,” he said. “I know you did not leave your house that day intending to take anyone’s life.”
Misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of one year in county jail, with no mandated minimum term.
In deciding a sentence, Judge Alejandro Morales said he appreciated Turmelle taking responsibility for what happened and her efforts to make a positive difference in the world by sharing her story.
However, he also noted that Turmelle had been involved in three other minor vehicle accidents since 2015 and was ticketed for running a red light just a couple of months before fatally striking Embree.
“The pattern has been clear to me: you have been a careless driver,” Morales said.
Some details of the crash remain unclear. Fulbright claimed that Turmelle originally lied to law enforcement by stating that she had stopped at the stop sign and did not see Embree. He also claimed that she told an officer on the scene that she had been on her phone.
Joni Eisenstein, Turmelle’s defense attorney, emphasized that the investigation did not support the idea that Turmelle had been on her phone. Rather, Turmelle made that statement to the officer because she was trying to take responsibility for what happened, Eisenstein claimed.
Embree’s death was the impetus for several city-level actions related to bike safety, with her family members urging leaders to prevent future deaths from occurring. Carlsbad leaders declared a state of emergency in 2022 after the death of another e-bike rider in the city, just one week after Embree.
Since then, the city has launched its Safer Streets Together program focused on education, re-engineering city roads, increasing enforcement, and partnering with school districts for safety to encourage safe cycling.
Morales permitted Turmelle to begin her 90-day jail sentence in February after she completed a series of scheduled speaking obligations at driving schools.