Obit: UC Berkeley chief legal counsel dead in hit-and-run near Guerneville

UC Berkeley’s chief legal counsel, Christopher Patti, was killed in a hit-and-run accident Sunday. (Alain McLaughlin/Impact Fund) 

Westbound Highway 116 at Summer Crossing, west of Guerneville.
SONOMA COUNTY — A member of UC Berkeley’s legal team died Sunday after being hit by a car in a hit-and-run crash near Guerneville, authorities said.

The Sonoma County Coroner’s Office confirmed Monday that 59-year-old Christopher Patti, the campus’ chief legal counsel, died Sunday morning. He was stopped on his bike on the right shoulder of westbound Highway 116 around 8:45 a.m. when a BMW slid onto the shoulder and hit him, according to a statement by the California Highway Patrol.
“I speak for the Berkeley community in saying how grief-stricken we are at Chris Patti’s untimely death,” UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ said in a statement. “He was an extraordinary colleague. He loved the university, and he had a deep core of integrity that motivated everything he did. He was smart, he was compassionate. He was everything you wanted the counsel of the campus to be. We offer our sympathy to his family and his friends for this tragic loss.”

Patti joined the university in 2010. Before that, he worked for two decades in the general counsel’s office at UC’s Office of the President.
“Chris was a wonderful colleague and friend who cared about people and doing the right thing. He was an extraordinary lawyer to whom we all turned for advice and counsel. His loss is unfathomable,” Charles F. Robinson, general counsel and vice president of legal affairs with UC, said in a statement.
The CHP on Monday identified 28-year-old Jonathan Ritter, of Rio Nido/Monte Rio, as a person of interest. The driver of the vehicle that hit Patti continued west on Highway 116, then turned around and went back past the scene in the eastbound direction, the agency said.
Police want to find out if Ritter was driving the car.
Officer Jon Sloat told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat that Patti was about 20 feet to the right of the highway, and that evidence at the scene indicates the vehicle drove fast and perhaps recklessly.
“He was well off the road,” Sloat told the Press-Democrat. “He should have been safe.”
Patti earned his bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College and his law degree from the University of Virginia. Before joining UC, he worked as a litigation associate in San Francisco. He is survived by a wife and two sons.
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