VISTA — A Vista judge on June 26 granted a continuance until September in the case of a Carlsbad woman charged in the death of a 35-year-old cyclist last August near Carlsbad High School.
Lindsay Turmelle, 42, faces a charge of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter in a fatal collision with cyclist Christine Hawk Embree on Aug. 7, 2022, at the intersection of Basswood Avenue and Valley Street.
Embree, 35, was riding an e-bike with her 16-month-old daughter Delilah when she collided with Turmelle’s Toyota 4Runner. The infant, equipped with a helmet, survived without injury despite being thrown from her mother’s e-bike.
According to law enforcement, Turmelle remained at the scene immediately following the incident, and investigators determined drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the incident.
Embree was rushed to the hospital, where she died the next day.
After a nine-month joint investigation by the Carlsbad Police Department and California Highway Patrol, Turmelle was charged by the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office on May 25 and pleaded not guilty the following day in Vista Superior Court.
At Monday’s hearing, Deputy District Attorney Candance Novack shed some light on the allegations, saying Turmelle “rolled through” the stop sign and fatally struck Embree.
Oceanside attorney Joni Eisenstein, who appeared on Turmelle’s behalf, requested a continuance to allow her more time to collect and review evidence, including body camera footage.
Judge Peter F. Murray scheduled the next hearing for Sept. 8.
‘She is devastated’
According to Eisenstein, investigators’ calculations show Turmelle’s vehicle did not “blow through” the intersection at 30 or 40 mph. Instead, Eisenstein argued the findings suggest that if Turmelle had rolled through the intersection, she was traveling no faster than 9 mph when the collision occurred.
“(Turmelle) is devastated, but she is not a flight risk nor a danger,” Eisenstein told the judge. “We are disputing the causation, and when we’ve fleshed out the details, we’ll be in a better position to judge whether she is a danger.”
The parties also discussed whether Turmelle should keep her driving privileges in the interim between hearings.
Eisenstein said Turmelle holds two jobs — one in Solana Beach and the other in Orange County — and needs her vehicle to get to work. The judge limited Turmelle’s driving privileges to strictly her work commute and essential errands, such as grocery shopping, but she is prohibited from driving on “social” occasions.
Per the condition of her release, Turmelle is not allowed to violate any law, including minor traffic violations, which could result in her being remanded into custody.
Ongoing safety concerns
Just one week after Embree’s death, cyclist Brad Catcott of Solana Beach was killed on Aug. 15 after colliding with a motorcyclist fleeing law enforcement on Carlsbad Boulevard at Palomar Airport Road and Island Way.
Shortly after their deaths, the Carlsbad City Council declared a local state of emergency for bike, e-bike and traffic safety, citing a 233% increase in collisions involving bikes and e-bikes since 2019. Reports of crashes in Carlsbad involving bikes or e-bikes have nearly doubled annually over the past four years. The city reported 60 collisions in 2020 and 100 collisions the following year.
So far, in 2023, there have been 57 reports of cycle-involved collisions in Carlsbad.
This week’s hearing comes just days after a 15-year-old riding an e-bike was killed after colliding with a work van on June 23 in neighboring Encinitas.