ENCINITAS — Hundreds of family, friends and community members gathered Tuesday night for a candlelight vigil at San Dieguito Academy to honor the life of a 15-year-old Encinitas teen killed in a traffic collision last weekend.
The memorial was held for Brodee Braxton Champlain-Kingman, who died June 24 after colliding with a work van while riding his e-bike on El Camino Real in Encinitas.
“He used every hour of his short life so well,” said Clare Champlain, Brodee’s mother. “My son is the closest relationship I’ve ever had with another human being. He’s my firstborn. I never cried happy tears, ever, before I had him. And when I gave birth to him, it’s the first time I cried happy tears, and they really haven’t stopped since.”
The vigil was held at an outdoor stage in front of the bell tower at San Dieguito Academy, where mourning attendees left flowers, held lit candles and observed a moment of silence.
The somber event also featured a number of speakers recounting their memories of Brodee and his positive impact on friends, family and the community.
According to numerous accounts, Brodee, who recently completed his freshman year at San Dieguito Academy, taught himself Japanese at a young age and enjoyed cooking.
“Brodee, your impact on all of our lives was no small thing. For that we will remember you forever,” said Tyler Shaw, Brodee’s friend.
Shreyas Dillon spoke about her friendship with Brodee, saying, “His persistent dedication to friendship is something truly rare to find.”
Clare expressed her gratitude for the community’s response to her son’s untimely passing and the outpouring of support.
“He would just want to hug each and every one of you and try to take your pain away,” Clare told the crowd.
Family and loved ones have launched a GoFundMe to cover medical and funeral expenses. A statement on the GoFundMe page said he “touched many lives with his grace, compassion, determination and kindness.”
“Anyone that knew Brodee could feel his authentic, heart-forward energy. Brodee was fiercely steadfast in his desire to excel academically, thrive socially and grind for those gains in the gym. Nothing was more striking than Brodee’s natural ability to connect with others and his sincere desire to reflectively grow in his relationships and life pursuits. He lived with grounded humility — always learning, always evolving,” the statement said.
Brodie was riding an e-bike northbound on El Camino Real on June 23 when he changed lanes and collided with a work van, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
Officials said he was rushed to Scripps Memorial Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
The driver of the van, who was unharmed, remained on the scene and cooperated with law enforcement. Authorities do not believe alcohol or drugs were a factor in the collision.
“My son signaled. He did every single thing right and we’re still here,” Clare said. “Seeing two children without their helmets buckled as I drove in here today rips me apart. It has to change. More parents cannot go through this.”
The San Dieguito Union High School District spokesperson Miquel Jacobs said while the district offers e-bike safety resources at every school, e-bike registration, which requires passing a safety class, is not required at all schools.
The director of emergency services for the City of Encinitas issued a proclamation on June 27 to declare a local emergency for bicycle, e-bikes, and motorized mobility device safety.
The Encinitas City Council is expected to ratify the proclamation during a special June 28 meeting.
Last year, the Carlsbad City Council declared a similar emergency declaration for bikes, e-bikes and traffic safety, citing a 233% increase in collisions involving bikes and e-bikes since 2019. Reports of collisions in Carlsbad involving bikes or e-bikes have nearly doubled annually over the past four years.
Between 2018 and 2022, the Sheriff’s Department reported 235 traffic collisions along local roads in Encinitas, Del Mar and Solana Beach. But collisions involving bicycles and e-bikes in those same cities have increased by 50% since 2018, with the majority of incidents occurring in Encinitas.
Brodee’s family issued a final message, urging attendees to be more cautious on the roads.
“Please slow down and watch out for each other,” Brodee’s father Roy Kingman, told the crowd. “For the sake of your families, friends and your beloved children, please slow down.”
Clare also noted that even with his death, Brodie continued to help people, successfully donating two of his organs.
“His heart is still beating right now,” Clare said.
The Sheriff’s Department urges anyone who may have witnessed the collision, have cell phone or surveillance video of the incident, or have any other information to contact the North Coastal Sheriff’s Station Traffic Division at 760-966-3500.
Laura Place contributed reporting for this story.
More photos by Joe Orellana