TUCSON – Staff and students at the University of Arizona are mourning the loss of one of their professors.
Thursday evening, Rafe Sagarin was riding his bike up State Route 77 near Oracle. A pickup partially left the road and killed the cyclist, according to the Arizona Department of Public Safety.
The driver of the truck, Gary Colvin, 44, was booked in the Pinal County Jail and faces a manslaughter charge. Investigators believe he may have been impaired.
Diana Liverman worked with Sagarin at the university. She called him an enthusiastic free spirit.
“He was a great guy,” Liverman said. “He was just really full of life, and he really loved nature. He loved his family. He was just fun to be around.”
Sagarin was a marine ecologist who worked at Biosphere 2 near Oracle.
“The students have been just so sad at his loss because they found him really inspirational,” Liverman said. “Because he was a scientist that didn't just sit in the lab. He took it out into the field.”
Sagarin was a valuable asset to the university with experience at Duke, UCLA and Stanford. He came to Tucson so his wife could pursue her doctorate in anthropology, according to Liverman.
Sagarin recently shot a video talking about his work at Biosphere 2.
The Dean of the College of Science, Joaquin Ruiz, emailed a statement about the loss.
“Dr. Sagarin was committed to education and research, and understood that the Biosphere was a unique platform for science and education,” Ruiz wrote. “He represented all of us in our commitment to quality and making things better. 'Rafe' will be deeply missed. His energy and enthusiasm were contagious, and it was a blessing to have known such wonderful colleague."