Mikhail Vinaykin, a Ph.D. candidate studying chemistry, died Tuesday morning in an accident after witnesses reported seeing his motorcycle lose control at a high speed and collide with a streetlight pole on Exposition Boulevard.
He was the sole rider on the motorcycle, according to Lt. Jim Cummings, acting commanding officer of Los Angeles Police Department’s South Traffic Division.
Vinaykin was born in Russia and sent abroad for his studies, according to a statement released by the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.
“Misha was a uniquely talented young scientist, a rising star already recognized by the international scientific community for his research,” incoming Dornsife Dean Steve A. Kay said in a statement released Tuesday night. “His colleagues and peers were fortunate to share his contagious enthusiasm for knowledge, and he was loved and respected as a teaching assistant by undergraduate students at USC.”
Cummings said Vinaykin was non-responsive when paramedics arrived and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The South Traffic Division is charged with investigating the incident, which occurred west of Figueroa Street at approximately 9:40 a.m. Tuesday, according to USC Dept. of Public Safety Capt. David Carlisle.
Cummings said Tuesday evening that detectives from his department would continue to investigate the crash by collecting and examining evidence in addition to following up and locating more witnesses. The division is also working to determine whether any security cameras near USC contain footage of the incident, Cummings said.
Lynette Merriman, senior associate dean for Student Affairs, said the university was deeply saddened by the loss.
“I can tell you any time we lose a student at USC, it’s a huge loss for the entire Trojan Family,” Merriman said. “Any time we have a tragedy like this, this is a time we have to come together to support one another because it affects all of us.”
Vinaykin’s parents, who live in Russia, plan to join the university in a few days for a celebration of his life, according to the statement.
Students and faculty affected by the loss can seek counseling from Student Counseling Services or the Center for Work and Family Life.