A bicycle accident that claimed the life of the University of California Berkeley’s chief counsel is being called a tragedy, and police are searching for a person of interest in the death. 59-year-old Christopher Patti had been biking just west of Guerneville, California when he pulled off the road onto a shoulder to check his phone. “He did everything right,” said Monte Rio Fire Chief Steve Baxman. “He had the right gear, reflectors, flashing lights on his bike, and a helmet on. He was where he was supposed to be.” Unfortunately, all of those things could not protect him when a BMW said to have been traveling at too high a rate of speed on Highway 116 failed to negotiate a turn, sliding off the road and onto the gravel shoulder, striking him. The driver of the BMW paused briefly at the scene, then sped away.
Describing the bicycle accident, Baxman said, “The car got off the road, and got in that loose gravel and started sliding sideways, and the driver slid all the way across two lanes into the guard rail.” When he arrived on the scene the vehicle was gone, the bike was mangled with its lights still flashing, and Patti was dead, having been thrown first onto the BMW’s trunk and then slamming into the rear window.
Police Name Person of Interest in Bicycle Accident
The police investigation into the bicycle accident began with interviewing witnesses and following up on clues, including a license plate that was left behind when the BMW hit the guard rail. Though the vehicle was later found abandoned in a nearby town, the car’s owner has indicated that they had loaned it to 28-year-old Jonathan Ritter, who has been named a person of interest. People who know Ritter describe him as a “street person” who has anger problems. They also guessed that he lost control of the vehicle “because he was going too fast.”