A highly regarded doctoral student and researcher at Stony Brook University died late Wednesday night after he was struck by a hit-and-run driver while in-line skating near his home just north of the campus, police said.
Artem G. Ayzen, 25, originally from Brooklyn, was hit by a dark-colored SUV while skating in front of his residence at 1153 North Country Rd., police said. The SUV then left the scene, probably with front-end damage, police said.
Ayzen, described as a dedicated student and researcher pursuing his doctorate in electrical engineering, was pronounced dead after he was transported to nearby Stony Brook University Hospital, police said.
"It is not possible to return men back to life," said Michael Gouzman, an adjunct professor at the university and the director of the university laboratory where Ayzen had been working the last year and a half as an electrical engineering research assistant. "Now we lost him. He was a great young man."
Gouzman said that while Ayzen usually stayed at the laboratory until 10 or 11 p.m., on the day he died, the doctoral student left around 8 p.m. Ayzen usually walked to and from school, but he loved outdoor activities and bought the skates about a year ago, friends said.
Ayzen was one of three members of a tight-knit group of research assistants who dubbed themselves "the three musketeers" while working under Gouzman at the South Campus lab, said fellow doctoral student Brent Schiller, 24, of Queens, a close friend of Ayzen and a member of the group.
"We struggled through grad classes together," Schiller said. "Without him I wouldn't have gotten this far in the program."
As he spoke of his friend, Schiller became overcome with grief and was unable to continue speaking. Instead, he opened a document on his computer and typed out what Ayzen meant to him and others.
He wrote that Ayzen would hold barbecues at his home every Thursday and often invited friends and co-workers.
"He was a great cook and he truly enjoyed catering to guests," Schiller typed on his computer.
Woody Park, 27, who is also an engineering student at Stony Brook and lives a few houses away from Ayzen but did not know him, said the two-lane stretch of North Country Road where Ayzen was struck is not well-lit "and when you're driving here, you just can't see anything. . . . I'm sometimes shocked by people on the road."
Police are asking anyone with information about the accident to call detectives from the Vehicular Crime Unit at 631-852-6555 or Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS. All calls will remain confidential.
With John Valenti