Oculus VR co-founder, 33, killed by speeding car

Tragedy hits the company that made the Oculus Rift head-mounted virtual-reality display, as co-founder Andrew Reisse finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time during a police chase.

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Leslie Katz
2 min read

Andrew Scott Reisse, co-founder of the company that made the Oculus Rift virtual-reality headset, was struck and killed while walking in a crosswalk Thursday, ABC has reported.

Andrew Scott Reisse KABC TV

The 33-year-old co-founder and lead engineer at Oculus VR in Irvine, Calif., was hit in Santa Ana, where he was a resident, by a speeding car being pursued by police, KABC TV Los Angeles said.

"Andrew was a brilliant computer graphics engineer, an avid photographer and hiker who loved nature, a true loyal friend, and a founding member of our close-knit Oculus family," the company said in a statement.

According to police, a Dodge Charger being driven by 21-year-old Victor Sanchez and two other suspects in an unnamed alleged criminal activity slammed into two vehicles during the pursuit before hitting Reisse at Flower Street and MacArthur Boulevard.

"They ran through several red lights, including the one where they struck our victim," KABC TV quoted Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna as saying.

The Oculus Rift head-mounted display has captivated the gaming world since its crowdfunding campaign went up on Kickstarter last year and netted more than $1.1 million in donations in days. It has head-tracking, meaning that when wearers turn their head in one direction, the virtual view turns in that direction as well.

After trying the Oculus Rift at CES this year, CNET home entertainment contributor Geoffrey Morrison called it "the virtual reality we've been promised since the dawn of video gaming, and really, the early days of science fiction. It leaps past all other attempts at the technology and moves into the realm of total immersion. The feeling is so natural that it's effortless to suspend disbelief that you are standing in that place, in that world."

A number of amusing videos of first-time Oculus Rift users reacting to the hyperrealism of the device have made their rounds online.

"Andrew's contributions span far and wide in the video game industry," the Oculus VR statement said. "His code is embedded in thousands of games played by millions of people around the world. Words can not express how sorely he will be missed or how deeply our sympathy runs for his family."

Similar expressions of sadness circulated through the gaming community and beyond late Friday night as news of Reisse's death spread.

"Trying to think of the right thing to say about the Andrew Reisse news, but there isn't a 'right' thing to say," Justin Massongill, a social-media manager for PlayStation, wrote on Twitter. "Angry and upset."