Crash victims Craig and Kathryn Nyberg want changes to state Route 56

Caltrans: Adding divider could cause more crashes

SAN DIEGO - It's been nearly four weeks since a horrendous accident nearly claimed the lives of an Escondido couple.

10News anchor/reporter Preston Phillips tracked down Craig and Kathryn Nyberg, who were traveling on SR-56 just east of Black Mountain Road when a driver crossed over the center median and hit them head on.       

It was at least the third crash 10News has covered since May of 2013 where a vehicle crossed over the center divide on SR-56 and slammed into motorists traveling the opposite direction.
The Nybergs say the car that hit them was traveling over 100 miles per hour.
Now, they’re calling on Caltrans to do something to make the road safer.

Inseparable for 43 years, Craig and Kathryn Nyberg haven't seen each other now in almost four weeks, after the horrific crash on SR-56 landed them in hospitals 20 miles apart.

“I just can't wait to see her and hug her and to be back together,” said crash victim Craig Nyberg.

Craig Nyberg said he can't get the images of the crash out of his head.

He said he remembers everything and calls it a curse.

“Headlights bouncing like this and then bang all of a sudden they're right there in front of me and I thought oh my God this is it."

The crash occurred when a young woman driving westbound on SR-56 crossed over the large center median and slammed into the Nybergs, who were traveling eastbound.

“Her head's in the airbag and she's not moving, my knuckle is protruding out of my hand and uh, I don't feel it at all, but there I am - I'm trying to hold her, hold her head up as best I can,” said Nyberg.

After first responders cut the roofs off both cars, Craig's unconscious wife was put on a stretcher and flown by Life Flight to a hospital. It was unclear if she would survive.

“The doctors themselves were shocked. I had over 30 fractures. They were really shocked at the amount of pulverizing I got and that I survived,” said crash victim Kathryn Nyberg.

She credits her husband with saving her life with his split second decision to swerve.

“I don't know how he did it but it saved us from brain injury and spinal injury,” she said.

Kathryn Nyberg, an avid mountain biker and 3rd grade teacher at Valley Center Elementary, said she just wants to walk again and wants Caltrans to make SR-56 safer for drivers.

“There are no burms - there's nothing to stop you,” she said.

We went to Caltrans and asked about adding a median barrier.

They told us it's safest the way it is.

“Would a median at the 56 make that roadway safer? Not necessarily because the median barrier itself can become a fixed object which can be a point of damage, injury or even fatality," said Catherine Bruce-Johnson with Caltrans. "And the further away a median barrier gets from the roadway, the less effective it becomes because of the wide angle in which it can be hit. There are cases of vehicles that have breached a median barrier because of excessive speeds and the wide angles at which it was hit. It's not effective to place a median barrier on a median that is more than 75 feet wide. This one is 94 feet wide. It's not a wise place, or an effective place, to place a median barrier. A barrier that's not placed properly can create more issues."

The CHP still has not said what caused the young woman to cross the center median and crash into the Nybergs - 10News has been told she's still recovering at a local hospital. The Nybergs say they're praying for her recovery.

Meantime, the Nybergs say they are in need of funds to help them get back on their feet. If you would like to donate, go to So far, more than $12,000 has been raised.

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