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Family and Salk Institute identify scientist killed while cycling in La Jolla

Swati Tyagi, 34, pictured with her son, Miransh, was a postdoctoral researcher at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Swati Tyagi, 34, pictured with her son, Miransh, was a postdoctoral researcher at La Jolla’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
(Courtesy of Tyagi’s family)

Swati Tyagi, 34, was struck and killed June 23. The Salk Institute postdoctoral researcher was the mother of an 11-month-old son.

A bicyclist who was struck and killed by a car June 23 in La Jolla was a scientist at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and the mother of an 11-month-old son, according to her family and employer.

Swati Tyagi, 34, was riding south on North Torrey Pines Road approaching La Jolla Village Drive when she was hit at about 4:20 p.m., according to San Diego police.

Investigators said Tyagi had been riding in the right lane when she merged into the left lane and was struck from behind by a 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL500 driven by a 74-year-old man. Tyagi died at the scene.

In the days after a bicyclist was struck and killed by a car June 23 in La Jolla, avid cyclists spoke out about the need for better safety measures and cycling education throughout the area.

Tyagi was “a very humble person who was very friendly” and helped “everyone she could,” her brother-in-law said in a Whatsapp message from India. He added that Tyagi studied at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai and earned her doctorate in 2014 in Germany.

She married Ashim Rai, a scientist at Scripps Research in La Jolla, in 2015 and the couple had a son who is just shy of his first birthday, her brother-in-law said.

Ashim Rai and Swati Tyagi celebrate 11 months with their son, Miransh.
(Courtesy of Tyagi’s family)

According to the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Tyagi was a postdoctoral research associate in the Hetzer Lab, where she was working on research about aging and neurodegenerative diseases like dementia.

“The shock and pain from Swati’s sudden passing is raw and deep,” Martin Hetzer, vice president and chief science officer, told the Salk Institute website. “We are struggling to process this heartbreaking news. ... Swati was a rising star with immense intelligence, noble modesty and boundless generosity.”

According to the Salk Institute, she joined in 2016 as a research associate and “received numerous recognitions for her outstanding work,” including a Salk Women & Science Special Award in 2017.

The San Diego Police Department’s Traffic Division is handling the investigation of the deadly crash. Investigators do not suspect impaired driving was a factor. ◆