Marine biologist killed in crosswalk by suspected drunk driver

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DEL MAR, Calif. — A 27-year-old woman killed Friday night in a hit-and-run crash was a Ph.D. student in marine biology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Rachel Anne MorrisonRachel Anne Morrison and a friend were walking in a crosswalk at the intersection of Camino Del Mar and Coast Boulevard about 10:15 p.m. Friday when Christopher Stockmeyer, 41, allegedly sped through a stop sign smashed into her, according to sheriff’s officials and the county Medical Examiner’s Office.

Morrison’s companion was able to get out of the way, sheriff’s Sgt. Anthony O’Boyle said.

Morrison, an Encinitas resident, was taken to Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla where she was declared dead shortly after arrival, according to the Medical Examiner’s Office.

The driver fled the scene, authorities said. Sheriff’s deputies and San Diego police used evidence left behind after the crash to locate the vehicle and Stockmeyer, its registered owner, at an apartment complex in La Jolla.

Stockmeyer was subsequently arrested and booked into the Vista Detention Facility on suspicion of felony drunken driving, felony hit and run and vehicular manslaughter, according to sheriff’s officials and jail records. He has since posted bail.

Fox 5 did not find any priors on Stockmeyer, however that information was not confirmed by law enforcement since Monday was a holiday.

Morrison graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in marine science from Boston University and later completed a Master of Science degree, according to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography website. She was studying coral reef communities in Belize, Brazil, the Galapagos Islands and other tropical areas, according to her biography.

Morrison’s family arrived from Boston Monday morning and visited her memorial on Camino Del Mar.

“I can’t imagine what her family is going through, it’s a tragedy,” said Melanie Havey, a close friend of Morrison’s.  “It’s just devastating that someone’s poor judgment has caused such a huge devastation to so many people.”

Lindsay Bonito worked with Morrison for 4 years at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

“She was always there when you needed help or talk to someone about anything,” said Bonito through tears.   “We would see each other in the building every day. She always had a smile on her face.”

Morrison’s friends and her “lab family” gathered Monday afternoon and placed a vase of pink lilies in front of her office in Hubbs Hall.  They told Fox 5 Morrison studied coral reef ecosystems on remote islands in the Pacific and fish behavior in local San Diego waters.

At the neighborhood where Morrison was struck, residents said it’s no secret the intersection is dangerous, but not for lack of traffic signals.

“This is a big problem here, the city needs to do something about it,” said Wendy Ramp.

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