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Hundreds to attend vigil for UC Berkeley student killed in Nice terror attack

Hundreds of students are expected to gather at a vigil for a UC Berkeley student who was one of 84 killed in Thursday’s terror attack in Nice.

Organized by the Associated Students of the University of California, the vigil for Nicolas Leslie, 20, will be held at 4:30 p.m. at Sproul Plaza on the campus.

“It is with a heavy heart I share with you all that unfortunately we have lost another fellow Bear to senseless violence,” the organization’s president, William Morrow, said on Facebook in announcing the vigil.

Leslie is the second student to be killed overseas in terror attacks in less than a month. Sophomore Tarishi Jain, who was studying abroad, was one of 20 hostages killed July 1 during a standoff at the Holey Artisan Bakery in Bangladesh.

Leslie was also studying abroad through a campus program and had gone to the city’s promenade to watch the Bastille Day celebration when a truck raced through the packed crowd, killing 84 and injuring more than 200.

Driven by 31-year-old Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, a Tunisian man living in Nice, the 20-ton truck plowed through the crowd gathered on the city’s promenade for the Bastille Day celebration. The truck traveled nearly a mile, crushing people along the way, before police were able to shoot and kill Bouhlel.  

UC Berkeley students Vladyslav Kostiuk, 23, Daryus Medora, 21, and Diane Huang, 20, were injured in the attack. Huang suffered a broken foot and Kostiuk had a broken leg. Both were released from hospitals. Medora remains hospitalized with a broken leg.

Immediately after the attack, Leslie, a junior, was reported missing, prompting a frantic search by the university, local officials and family. Leslie's mother, who is Italian, dispatched family and friends in Europe to check hospitals to try to find her son, according to a family friend.

French officials confirmed his death on Sunday, according to a statement released by the university.

“This is tragic, devastating news,” UC Berkeley Chancellor Nicholas Dirks said Sunday. “All of us in the UC Berkeley family — both here on campus, and around the world — are heartbroken to learn that another promising young student has been lost to senseless violence.”

Leslie’s Facebook page said he was from Milan, Italy, and grew up in Del Mar, where he attended Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, before heading to Berkeley. The environmental studies major planned to begin his studies at the Haas School of Business in the fall, the university said.

“Nick was a very involved student in Berkeley through his fraternity, his club involvement, and his academic work trying to make a more environmentally sustainable world,” Morrow said.

Leslie was an only child who was "adored by everyone” who knew him, said a family friend. The friend asked to be identified only as Antonella, to protect her privacy as well as the family's. Antonella described him as “a wonderful, caring young adult, extremely motivated."

Leslie and the other three students were among 85 Berkeley students participating in a summer entrepreneurship program in Nice.

Leslie’s advisor in the university’s College of Natural Resources told campus officials that “he was very excited about the upcoming year.”

About 60 students remain in Nice, where counselors were sent to speak with those grieving.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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