Camille Martlin and her 22-year-old son, Max Martlin, who lived together in the Bellevue house where Camille grew up, loved to paddleboard and hike together, often with their dogs, a pit bull rescue named Pebbles and her small-breed companion, Smokey, according to friends and family.
Mother and son went to Preston to pick up pumpkins for Halloween and were on their way home when a huge tree broke 20 feet above the ground and crashed into the passenger compartment of their white sedan during Sunday’s windstorm, killing them both, according to Max’s father and King County Sheriff’s Sgt. Tim Meyer.
The King County Medical Examiner’s Office on Tuesday released their names and determined both died from multiple blunt force injuries. Their deaths were ruled an accident. Camille Martlin was 59.
The tree that crashed onto the Martlins’ sedan measured 8 feet in circumference at its base, said Meyer, the sheriff’s spokesperson. The two were traveling along Preston-Fall City Road Southeast, a densely forested roadway that connects cars from Interstate 90 to Fall City, when the tree landed across the car.
Eastside Fire & Rescue reported responding around 3:30 p.m. Sunday and pronounced them dead at the scene.
“It was truly a collision of inches and that it would take a mother and son is tragic,” Meyer said. “For that tree to hit at that moment is truly a freak incident.”
Camille Martlin, known to many of her friends as “Cami,” was an aesthetician and massage therapist who worked at a Bellevue spa and owned her own business, Essential Kneads Skin & Body Clinic, also in Bellevue, recalled longtime friend Teri Chastain.
“She was just an amazing, bright light,” said Chastain, who was friends with Camille for 26 years and was inspired by her to also become a massage therapist. “She had so many friends. She just walked into the room and she was the party. There didn’t even need to be a party — she was it.”
Max Martlin was working at Starbucks while also working toward his associate degree at Bellevue College, Chastain said. Mother and son, who both graduated from Interlake High School, were extremely close and often did activities together, she said.
“Max was very mature for his age; he was very calm. He was always there and reliable and they checked in (with each other) a lot,” said Chastain, adding Max was also devoted to his longtime girlfriend.
Brian Martlin, Camille’s ex-husband and Max’s father, said both were wonderful, fun-loving people. He said his son had just earned his two-year degree and was about to start working toward a four-year degree, with plans of going into real estate.
“He was such a sweet kid. I don’t think he had any enemies whatsoever,” Brian Martlin, who lives in Tacoma, said of his son. “He was accepting of everybody. He was very centered, very gentle, very loving.”
For Martlin and Chastain, it’s hard to wrap their heads around the random nature of the accident that took two lives. Martlin thinks someone should’ve done something to mitigate the danger of tree falls in the area where Camille and Max were killed.
“It’s just a huge loss,” said Chastain of Bellevue. “I still can’t stop crying. It was very, very unexpected.”
News researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this story.