ENCINITAS — For many members of the Carmel Valley community, the turn of the new year brought tragedy after beloved Canyon Crest Academy graduate David D’Lima was killed in a hit-and-run in Encinitas.
Now, those who called D’Lima their friend have come together to celebrate, honor and mourn the 23-year-old who they say made a huge impact on everyone he met.
D’Lima was a 2017 graduate of Canyon Crest Academy, where he played on the varsity basketball team, and went on to attend UC Santa Barbara, earning a degree in environmental science. His life was cut short early in the morning of New Year’s Day when he was hit by a vehicle while walking on the crosswalk at Encinitas Boulevard at Coast Highway 101 with a friend, who also suffered minor injuries.
The driver, who has yet to be identified, continued driving to B Street and fled the scene. According to the Sheriff’s Department, evidence left at the scene indicates that the car was a dark-colored sedan or van, possibly a Chrysler or Dodge, with damage to the front driver’s side.
A group of D’Lima’s friends has organized a GoFundMe to assist his family with funeral costs, which has raised over $22,000 as of Friday. Friends also set up a memorial at the corner where the fatal hit-and-run occurred, and the Cardiff Kook has been decked out with flowers, notes from friends, and a red headband like the one D’Lima was known to wear.
“He was always eager no matter what. He was eager to live, try something new, and learn. Life was always exciting to him, and I admired that so much,” said Megan Callihan, one of his close friends since high school.”David was one of my greatest supporters and greatest friends. And he always showed up for me.”
Callihan remembers meeting D’Lima at the age of 14 in Spanish class at Canyon Crest and instantly connecting with him — they began chatting so frequently, in fact, that D’Lima joked about his mother being shocked at the huge increase in texts he was sending per month.
Callihan said she wished she could tell him what he meant to her.
“I wish I could tell you how proud I am of you. Watching the community you brought together this past week has been amazing. I hope you saw how important you are — how impactful you are. As expected, everyone I’ve spoken to has said you were the most incredible human they got to know,” Callihan said in a social media post dedicated to D’Lima.
D’Lima was also remembered by many who played alongside him and coached him in basketball as a talented player and incredible teammate. The memorial set up for him at the Cardiff Kook includes a basketball playmaker board that reads “Big Wave, We Love You,” referencing his fondly-given nickname “Big Wave Dave.”
Brian Baum, varsity boys basketball coach at Canyon Crest, called D’Lima’s death an “absolutely horrible situation” and extended his condolences to D’Lima’s family and friends. He said he watched D’Lima play basketball for years.
“I met David for the first time in middle school while he was playing in our youth program. He went on to be a four-year member of the basketball program at CCA, two-year varsity player. David loved to be in the gym working on his game, practicing and playing. He was the ultimate teammate and a true Raven,” Baum said.
According to friends, one of D’Lima’s notable traits was his ability to make a person feel like they truly mattered and give them his undivided attention. Morgan McIntyre, another high school friend of D’Lima’s, described how he made genuine connections with people and always lived authentically.
“David deserved a kinder goodbye,” she said. “David is truly irreplaceable. He loved unconditionally, laughed like nobody else was watching, and was unapologetically himself. He made genuine connections with everyone around him and made you feel like you were the center of the room and that you mattered. His optimistic outlook on life and his drive to live will undoubtedly inspire many.”
Another friend from high school, Ally Deremer, said D’Lima exhibited traits that everyone could learn from in life. He was funny, positive, and a good listener, and more than anything, he seemed to live his life by the motto “don’t sweat the small stuff,” she said.
“David treated every conversation like you were the only person in the world. He was endlessly kind, compassionate, and radiated positive energy. He was the greatest friend you could ever ask for because he always knew just what you needed,” Deremer said. “David would be there as an amazing listener, and he would also make you laugh in seconds just by being himself. He never put himself first.”
D’Lima’s friends added that when the collision occurred, he and the friend were doing all the right things — they were using the crosswalk and paying attention to traffic signals.
Anyone with information about the fatal hit-and-run in Encinitas is asked to contact the North Coastal Sheriff’s Station at (760) 966-3500 or the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department at (858) 565-5200.
For the latest crime reports in Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar, please visit The Coast News’ Weekly Crime Reports. For up-to-the-minute arrest reports in North County, check out Daily Arrest Logs. Read more local crime news here.