VISTA, Calif. - The man charged in the hit-and-run death of a marine biologist had three times the legal limit of alcohol in his system at the time of the crash, according to the deputy district attorney prosecuting the case.
Christopher "Chip" Stockmeyer, 41, pleaded not guilty in a Vista courtroom Monday, and was ordered to return to jail, with bail set at $250,000.
Rachel Morrison, a 27-year-old UC San Diego PhD student studying at the Scripps Oceanographic Institution, had just finished dinner with a friend at Jake’s Del Mar Restaurant. The two were in the crosswalk at Camino Del Mar and Coast Boulevard, when witnesses said Stockmeyer's Audi A-4 came racing toward them. The car did not stop for the stop sign and hit Morrison, narrowly missing her friend.
"Rachel's body wrapped around the hood of the car and crashed into the windshield, causing the airbag to deploy, and crushing the front windshield of that Audi," Deputy District Attorney Keith Watanabe said in court. "Rachel's body was then thrown 120 feet away, into the bushes. The Audi continued, and according to the witnesses, the Audi made no attempt to stop and just continued to drive away and didn't even slow down."
Watanabe said Morrison's spine was snapped, and although a good Samaritan performed CPR on her, she did not survive.
Watanabe said the Audi symbol from the car and a portion of the license plate helped San Diego County sheriff's deputies locate Stockmeyer at his La Jolla home some 12 miles from the crash site.
Stockmeyer reportedly told deputies he had been drinking with friends at the Beachside Grill in Encinitas and admitted he "might have" hit a person along Camino Del Mar.
"He said there might have been someone who got in the way, I'm not quite sure though," Watanabe told the court. "When asked if he was familiar with the vehicle code that requires him to stop after the collision, he said he was and it occurred to him to stop, but he just wanted to go home and sleep."
Stockmeyer’s blood was drawn at 3:21 a.m., five hours and seven minutes after the crash. Watanabe estimated that his blood alcohol level would have been .24 at the moment of impact.
Stockmeyer now faces a charge of gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated, DUI causing injury and hit-and-run. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.
Although Stockmeyer had already posted $100,000 bail, Judge Martin Stavin ordered him returned to jail and raised the bail amount to $250,000.
As the bailiff handcuffed the father of two little boys, Stockmeyer could be heard telling their mother, "Give the boys my love."
10News has learned one of the boys, a 5-year-old, suffers from leukemia, and Stockmeyer often spent long hours with him in the hospital, making this a tragedy for two families.
After the arraignment, Stockmeyer’s sister, Jennifer Dinofia, read a statement from his family.
"My brother and all of our family offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Rachel Morrison," she said with tears streaming down her cheeks. "She was an incredible young lady with a wonderful future ahead of her, and it's a terrible loss. We are so, so, so very sorry."
Morrison's colleagues, who wore pink roses on their lapels, said that while they appreciated the apology, they still want justice for the woman who they say had so much more to give.