Aspiring Marine Biologist Killed in DUI Hit and Run

Rachel Morrison, 27, was fatally struck by DUI suspect Christopher Stockmeyer, 41, at Camino Del Mar and Coast Boulevard Friday night

A 27-year-old PhD student was killed after being struck by a suspected drunk driver in a hit and run in Del Mar Friday night, the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department confirmed.

Rachel Anne Morrison was walking with a friend eastbound within a crosswalk at the intersection of Camino Del Mar and Coast Boulevard at around 10:15 p.m. when a speeding vehicle ran a stop sign, fatally striking Morrison. Her friend managed to dodge the car and was not injured.

The driver then fled the scene, officials said, leaving the mortally wounded woman on the street.

Morrison was transported to Scripps La Jolla hospital. Unfortunately, she succumbed to her injuries and was pronounced dead a short time later.

Morrison was a PhD student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, her adviser Stuart Sandin confirmed to NBC 7.

Her focus of study was fisheries management, a topic she became interested in while doing her undergraduate degree at Boston University, according to her autobiography on UC San Diego's Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation page. 

Based on evidence left behind at the crash scene, sheriff’s deputies and officers from the San Diego Police Department worked together to locate the suspect vehicle involved in the hit and run. They found the car at an apartment complex in La Jolla.

The owner of the car, Christopher Stockmeyer, 41, was also located at the apartment complex.

Officials said he was arrested on scene and charged with at least four counts, including felony driving under the influence, felony hit and run and vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

Stockmeyer was booked into the Vista Detention Facility. He’s scheduled to appear in court Wednesday.

NBC 7 has learned the suspect is a father of two and an engineer.

Morrison's adviser asked her friends and colleagues at Scripps Institution for thoughts about her. Compiling them, Sandin sent NBC 7 this statement via email: 

"Rachel was a beautiful person, inside and out. She was dedicated to her work in ocean conservation and exploration. She enjoyed simply being out on the water. She was a brilliant, giving, and selfless person that always had a smile on her face.

Rachel was an explorer at heart, sailing across the Pacific and collecting valuable data as she went. Among her many talents, she was amazing communicator and editor. We will always keep her in our hearts and miss her dearly."

Friends and family have created a roadside memorial with photos and flowers at the crash site.

The crash remains under investigation. Anyone with information should contact the Sheriff’s Department at (858) 565-5200.

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