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UC Berkeley’s chief counsel is killed in a hit-and-run crash in Sonoma County

UC Berkeley’s chief counsel was killed Sunday in a hit-and-run crash while bicycling in Sonoma County, authorities said.

Christopher Patti was struck and killed by a driver in a BMW who lost control as he entered a curve on California 116 in Guerneville, according to the California Highway Patrol.

Witnesses told officers that Patti was stopped on the shoulder. The 59-year-old Berkeley resident was sitting on his bicycle and looking at his phone, according to the CHP in Santa Rosa.

After striking Patti, the CHP said, the motorist drove off, then turned around and headed toward Guerneville.

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Investigators have identified a person of interest in the case. Anyone with information about the crash is urged to call the CHP at (707) 588-1400.

In a campus message announcing Patti’s death, Chancellor Carol Christ said the Berkeley community was grief-stricken.

“He was an extraordinary colleague,” she said. “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 had represented the campus in legal matters since 2010 and worked with community organizations as well as federal, state and local government agencies.

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Before joining UC Berkeley, he handled complex litigation at University of California’s office of the president for 20 years.

As a member of the office general counsel, he oversaw cases concerning constitutional issues, student affairs, academics and class-action matters.

Charles Robinson, general counsel and vice president of legal affairs with the University of California, said in a statement that colleagues often sought guidance from Patti.

“Chris was a wonderful colleague and friend who cared about people and doing the right thing,” he said. “He was an extraordinary lawyer to whom we all turned for advice and counsel. His loss is unfathomable.”

Patti, a graduate of Dartmouth College, earned a juris doctorate from the University of Virginia Law School. There, he served as article editor for the Virginia Law Review.

He worked for a year as a law clerk for Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr., who sat on the U.S. Court Of Appeals for the 11th District.

Patti is survived by his wife and two sons.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

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Twitter: VeronicaRochaLA


UPDATES:

6:25 p.m.: This article was updated with news that the California Highway Patrol has identified a person of interest in the case.

This article was originally published at 4:50 p.m


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