VISTA — A driver pleaded not guilty on Monday at the Vista courthouse to charges stemming from a hit-and-run crash that killed a pedestrian in Del Mar.
Christopher Stockmeyer, 41, had three times the legal blood-alcohol limit when he struck and killed Encinitas resident Rachel Morrison, Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said in court.
On March 28 just after 10 p.m., Morrison and a friend were walking back from dinner at Jake’s Del Mar.
When they were walking across the Camino Del Mar and Coast Boulevard crosswalk, Stockmeyer ran past a stop sign in his Audi A4 at a high rate of speed, striking Morrison and narrowly missing her friend, Watanabe said.
Watanabe said Morrison’s body wrapped into the hood of the car and then smashed the windshield. The impact of the crash threw Morrison’s body 120 feet into nearby bushes.
Morrison suffered a broken neck and other injures. She was transported to Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla and pronounced dead shortly after arrival.
“According to the witnesses, the Audi made no attempt to stop and just continued to drive away,” Watanabe said.
At the crime scene, Sherriff’s deputies found an Audi symbol and broken license plate, leading them to Stockmeyer at his La Jolla address.
Stockmeyer answered the door just before 1 a.m. and appeared intoxicated. He reportedly told deputies he was drinking with coworkers at Beachside Bar and Grill prior to the crash.
“He said that somewhere along Camino Del Mar, he may have hit a person,” Watanabe said.
Stockmeyer said he didn’t stop because he just wanted to go home and sleep, according to Watanabe.
Five hours after the collision, Stockmeyer’s blood was drawn, registering a .14 blood-alcohol level. Police estimate his blood-alcohol level was .24 at the time of the crash.
Stockmeyer previously posted $100,000 bail.
Judge Marshall Hockett increased Stockmeyer’s bail to $250,000, agreeing with prosecutors that he poses a flight risk and a danger to the community. Hockett ordered Stockmeyer go back to jail.
Neither Stockmeyer nor his attorney issued a statement during the arraignment.
Around 25 of Morrison’s friends and family gathered inside the courtroom, wearing pink roses in her memory. After the arraignment, they honored Morrison, describing her as a giving, whip smart UC San Diego PhD student at Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
Friend and colleague Gareth Williams read a letter written by Morrison’s family.
“She was a scholar and an athlete, and she was in training for the Boston Marathon, which she was planning to run with her father later this year,” Williams read. “Her father and mother quote, ‘Our lives have been destroyed.’”
Williams added Morrison was a free spirit and an explorer at heart.
“She had so much more to give, in terms of love and in terms of academia,” Williams said.
Friend Levi Lewis said she illuminated the lives of those around her every day.
“The way she was taken from us was tragic — it was heinous,” Lewis said.
Jennifer Dinofia, Stockmeyer’s sister, also spoke after the arraignment.
“My brother and all of our family offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Rachel,” Dinofia said while crying. “She was an incredible young lady with a wonderful future ahead of her. It’s a terrible loss. We’re so, so very sorry.”
Stockmeyer faces charges of felony hit and run, vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and DUI causing injury. If convicted of all charges, he faces 15 years in prison.