23-Year-Old Killed in El Camino Real Car Wreck Identified

Police say Brittany Pursell's car burst into flames after she was ejected from it at the intersection of El Camino Real and Levante Street.

Authorities have released the name of the 23-year-old Carlsbad resident whose car slammed into a light post on southbound El Camino Real at the intersection of Levante Street just before 3 p.m. Thursday. Brittany Pursell, who would have turned 24 next month, was pronounced dead Thursday afternoon after being airlifted to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla.

Carlsbad Police Sgt. Kevin Lehan said Pursell "was traveling in the bike lane at a high rate of speed, struck the pole and was ejected."  When medics arrived on scene, she was unconscious. 

The 2007 white Volkswagen Jetta was engulfed in flames, and firefighters worked to put out the blaze. Pursell was the only occupant of the vehicle.

The cause of the solo car crash is under investigation.

Joe Moreno June 10, 2011 at 12:24 AM
Wow. Thanks for that update. I hope the driver is OK - the accident looks awful.
Joe Moreno June 10, 2011 at 12:30 AM
Do you happen to know approximately what time this accident occurred?
Erin Thomas June 10, 2011 at 12:49 AM
How horrible. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim and her family.
Thomas June 10, 2011 at 07:08 AM
This was an extraordinarily violent crash with tremendous force cutting the vehicle in two. I find it curious that the signal standard did not break away at the base as most light poles and signal standards today are designed to do. Was this standard defective or does Carlsbad not have these signal standards with this common safety feature? If not why not? With speed limit of 55 mph and no guard rail separating these signal standards at every intersection, these poles would represent a clear hazard. They could turn a relatively low speed collision into a fatality due to sudden deceleration injuries.
Colleen Johnson June 10, 2011 at 02:10 PM
It was awful. My two daughters and I saw the car as we were driving home. We all said a prayer and cried the rest of the way home. My daughters are no longer so anxious to start driving.
Sarah Olson June 11, 2011 at 05:01 AM
REALLY? so the pole should have broken away, and fallen upon the cars that were sitting in the intersection, following the rules of the road, and created death or injury to them by the force of the pole falling upon the top of their car? REALLY? This is a tragedy...but this woman was traveling at a high rate of speed, and then decided to drive upon the sidewalk, in order to bypass all the cars that were stopped at the light....and your reaction is to blame the city of Carlsbad???? At what point are people responsible for what they do behind the wheel of a car? And wow.....guard rails on EVERY STREET CORNER??? The taxpayers have to pay for that? I live down the street from where this occured....GUARD RAILS???? ARE YOU SERIOUS????
Jeanne Amour June 11, 2011 at 03:01 PM
Why are some so eager to blame the driver? Isn't it odd that a young woman in a nice car in the middle of a nice afternoon would drive so dangerously? Anyone think it possible there could of been something wrong with the brakes on the car? People do drive like bats out of hell on that stretch and if she was doing 55 or above and couldn't come to a stop at the light at Levante - then yes, if it were me and my brakes failed I would no doubt try to avoid hitting other cars as much as possible. Just a theory people. On a side note, I also lived in that area for years, that is a very dangerous stretch all by itself. Quite a few drivers don't drive safely in that area. And that statement comes from personal experience - not speculation. The City of Carlsbad could probably meet its yearly budget just by patrolling and ticketing unsafe drivers in that area. Drivers behave like its a freeway. -- A posted 55 mph is far too high for that area in my opinion. People WALK the sidewalks there - and as someone else pointed out - with no guardrails. 55 used to be the freeway speed limit.
Thomas June 11, 2011 at 03:32 PM
"Sarah Olsen:" Its not about blame. It is about finding out why this common safety device did not work or was not installed. Break away poles have been the Federal Highway Safety Administration design requirement for highways with speeds in excess of 50 mph since 1985. Guard rails are an alternative but you have to have one or the other. Studies show that break away poles reduce injuries from sudden deceleration. They reduce injuries for all vehicles involved. That is why it is a FHSA design standard. No one intends to hit a light pole, sign pole or signal standard located in the clear way but it invariably and frequently happens. Blown tire, loss of control, swerving to avoid an animal or child. That is why we have seat belt laws. That is why we have these design standards. Why this woman crashed is a whole separate question.
September June 11, 2011 at 05:11 PM
Brittany Pursell was a Beautiful young woman. She was made for something far better then this world. I miss you B, more then you'll ever know and the only thing that keeps me going is knowing your off with Travis and David and your no longer suffering or in pain. May you Rest in the Peace you never found here on Earth. I love you.
Sarah Olson June 12, 2011 at 05:21 AM
Your right....not the drivers fault....everyone should be able to drive the way they want, regardless of the safety of others....my bad. Let's sue!
Greg Dale June 14, 2011 at 03:32 PM
This is a letter I wrote to Brittany, I hope her family and love ones can read it. June 9, 2011 Dear Brittany, I did not know you. Thursday afternoon in a split second I believe I learned something about you that your love ones need to know. When you came around the bend on El Camino Real heading South and you saw my car and a car driven by a 16 or 17 year old boy, you choose not to rear-end either of us at your high speed, you choose to go to the bike lane. I have to believe at this split second in time your character was to be a good person and not hit either one of us. You were going so fast you would have killed us. I’m a 50 year old Christian man married 27 years and have two kids about the same age as you were. The 16 or 17 year old kid was the first on the phone to 911 and he ran to be by your side. There was nothing he or the others could do for you. He and so many of us on the scene were so upset by what had happened. It was the worst thing I had ever seen. I can only think of a few reasons why you were going 100 MPH on El Camino Real, catastrophic mechanical failure or some sort of medical event you had no control over. You wanted to see how fast your car would go or You decided to end your life. Brittany, As far as I’m concerned it was your final choice not to hurt others. May God be with you and all your love ones. I pray you are in Heaven now and God is comforting you. In His Grip, Greg Dale Oceanside, Ca.
Emma Kolpin June 16, 2011 at 05:35 PM
Greg, Thank you so much for writing that letter. Brittany was a close friend of mine and I still have so many questions about the accident. I would love to talk to you about it. I was working down the road when this happened and had no idea my bestfriend was the one in the accident. Its been very hard, but I would really like to talk to someone who was there. She was such a wonderful person, had so much to bring to this world i cant believe this happened. If you could please email me at Emmakolpin@yahoo.com that would be greatly appreciated. THank you SO much Greg. I love you Brittany and miss you so much. Emma Kolpin Encinitas, CA
Christine Foronda June 16, 2011 at 08:47 PM
That was a beautiful letter, Greg. I don't know who Brittany Pursell is personally but I'm glad that even in the last few moments of her life she chose to do the right thing. It is such a tragedy when good people leave our world. My prayers go out to her family and loved ones.
Michael E Brown June 17, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Poles are not intended to break away.....I"m glad that she did not kill others in her pursuit of what ever @ at high rate of speed and driving in the bike lane!! People wake up and smell the roses..........it was her fault and no one should even attempt to defer responsibility from her!! I'm sorry for her poor decision making and I'll pray for her family...
Michael E Brown June 17, 2011 at 10:47 PM
No one knew what God's plan for Brittany was and now she leaves us with empty questions. Why was she speeding, was there a problem with her car, was there other reasons for the "rush" down the highway. There has only been 1 perfect person ever on this planet and he was killed more than 2000 years ago for our sins. When I read stories about young people, especially young women, I am reminded of my loss more than 40 years ago in another tragic automobile accident. She was a beautiful girl who's only mistake was to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. What ever was the cause, she's gone and I hope that she had a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If not, then that is a bigger tragedy.
ken sutherland June 24, 2011 at 07:04 PM
wow....that is just plain wrong.....my heart goes out to her friends and family.....hopefully all the truth will come out soon to help heal....as for the 'light pole' controversy....that pole looks like it would spit just about anything...I agree with Thomas and feel that anything that improves highway safety needs to be looked at...El Camino is a Racetrack and in Oceanside it is HEAVILY patrolled. There are numerous reasons why a car could be traveling at a high rate of speed on any large street like that...most due to driver negligence...but until all the facts come out there is a certain amount of discovery here. A breakaway pole would not have ripped that car to shreds and who knows what else. Buckle up....kiss your loved ones EVERY time they walk out the door.....
Lau Thomas June 29, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Thank you everyone who commented and thank you Patch for giving the community a forum to discuss this horrific event. While I was reading all the comments, it reminded me of how each of our actions and reactions have consequences--from speeding to jumping to conclusions. I appreciate that people took the time to give their input. Bless us all.
Austin Williams August 19, 2011 at 01:44 AM
Brittany was my best and closest childhood friend. I'll always love you!


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