CARLSBAD — Emotional and heartwrenching testimony from the family of Christine Hawk Embree, a Carlsbad mother who was struck and killed by a motorist while riding her e-bike earlier this month, has prompted residents to demand the city immediately address traffic safety concerns in residential areas.
Bob Embree, an Orange County firefighter and paramedic, spoke during the Carlsbad City Council’s Aug. 16 meeting about the last moments of his late wife’s life after a woman driving a Toyota 4-Runner struck Christine Embree on Aug. 7 while she was cycling with her 16-month-old daughter, Delilah.
Christine Embree, known to friends as “Chawky,” was transported to a local hospital with serious injuries and died the following day. The couple’s child, who was in a safety seat and wearing a helmet at the time of the collision, survived without injury despite being thrown from the e-bike, according to the family.
According to Bob Embree, the driver was traveling at 40 mph and blew a stop sign before striking Christine, pulling the 35-year-old mother under the vehicle.
The driver, a 42-year-old woman whose identity has not been made public, remained on the scene. Law enforcement has determined drugs and alcohol were not a factor in the collision but the cause of the crash is still under investigation. As of this publication, the driver has not been charged with a crime.
After medics extricated Christine Embree from the scene, she arrived at the hospital with severe damage to her internal organs. Surgeons told Bob Embree it was a “miracle” his wife had survived to that point and described her condition as “the worst case they’ve ever seen.”
A memorial was set up at the intersection located on the northwest corner of Carlsbad High School and a GoFundMe page has totaled more than $120,000 in donations to help cover funeral expenses. Also, an online petition to the City Council to address safer streets was launched recently.
Previously, Bob Embree had addressed the council in July to voice his safety concerns over vehicles traveling at high speeds through residential areas along Tamarack Avenue.
“I don’t want anyone to suffer the way I’ve suffered,” Bob Embree said this week. “My daughter doesn’t have a mom. Here I am trying to save another life because my wife’s life was lost. I beg you.”
Mark and Gretchen Embree, Bob’s parents, also shared remarks with the council, describing their daughter-in-law as “the sunshine of their life” and reminded the council they must serve as caretakers for all residents.
“I’m asking (you) to address the factors allowing selfish individuals to break to the rules of the street,” Mark Embree said fighting through tears. “Please don’t allow Christine’s death to become yesterday’s news.”
The Embree family called for temporary and long-term traffic safety solutions, such as implementing measures to force drivers to slow down on residential roads.
Todd Harris, a Carlsbad resident, said the accident occurred in front of his house.
“We’ve truly witness fundamental changes on our streets,” Harris said. “They were designed 50 years for a different type of traffic.”
Carlsbad City Manager Scott Chadwick, who addressed the Embree family on behalf of city staff, shared the city’s “heartfelt condolences.”
“I realize the inadequacy of my words,” Chadwick said.
The city is also reeling from the death of another cyclist approximately one week after Christine Embree was killed. A motorcycle, fleeing a state parks officer, collided with a cyclist around 1 p.m. on Aug. 15 along Carlsbad Boulevard near Palomar Airport Road. Law enforcement was attempting to pull over the motorcyclist, who had a female passenger aboard, for speeding and reckless riding, according to police.
The bicyclist, described only as male, died at the scene of the crash. The 28-year-old man who had been piloting the motorcycle and a 22-year-old female passenger were treated at the hospital with severe injuries.
Chadwick said police are investigating both collisions and said they will be “thorough and complete.”
Additionally, Chadwick has requested all speed data for areas surrounding both accident sites, especially Tamarack Avenue, and the city will develop some short-term traffic safety solutions.
“This is a terrible tragedy, and we very much feel for the families involved,” Chadwick said.
Tim Morgan, who lives near Bob Embree on Tamarack Avenue, cited several recent collisions along the roadway, including a car that smashed into an electrical transformer and hit six other vehicles in several driveways.
Neighbors Jason Oziel and Jim Young told The Coast News they had concerns with the bulb out and “hawk” signal at the intersection of Valley Street and Tamarack Avenue, less than a mile from Christine’s fatal collision. The bulb out extends the curb several feet where parking used to be provided and comes up to the existing bike lane.
At the intersection of Valley and Tamarack, delivery trucks, school buses and other large vehicles must turn into the eastbound lane when turning right onto Tamarack from Valley.
The hawk light, once activated, briefly stops traffic for 30 seconds, which may lead to a traffic backlog when students return to nearby to classes at Valley Middle School.
Neighbors also described Tamarack as a bypass for motorists to connect with Interstate 5 from El Camino Real.
Morgan, who also spoke to the council in July along with Bob Embree, said he has discussed the issue with city staff and Councilman Peder Norby, among others, and is hopeful the city will help calm traffic in these areas.
The city’s Traffic and Mobility Commission is addressing the Tamarack-Valley intersection and will make recommendations to the council later this year.
“City Council, the ball is in your court,” Morgan said. “We have support from the Traffic and Mobility Commission and 100% of neighborhood. Stop the project and prevent another fatal accident from happening.”
Other residents, such as Jason Cook, who lives near Aviara Oaks middle and elementary schools, said Aviara Parkway is also a dangerous road with a combination of motorists traveling at high speeds, kids walking and cyclists on traditional and electric bikes.
While Cook said his concerns felt “irrelevant” due to the Embree tragedy, he is concerned about vehicles regularly speeding to make the light at Aviara Parkway and Ambrosia Lane. Other Aviara residents said the issue is compounded with e-bikes and young kids who may not understand the responsibility of crossing a busy street such as Ambrosia during pick-up hours.
“But I fear exactly what (the Embree) family is feeling,” Cook said. “There is no easy solution, or I know you would have done so.”