ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. – The legal community in Georgia is mourning the unexpected death of a prominent Georgia attorney who was recognized as one of the best legal minds in America.
Defense attorney Page Pate, 55, drowned Sunday afternoon while trying to save his teenage son from strong outgoing tides at Gould’s Inlet on St. Simons Island, his law firm and Glynn County firefighters confirmed Tuesday. Glynn County Fire-Rescue pulled Pate from the water Sunday and performed CPR. He was then taken to Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick hospital, where he died.
Reports said Pate’s son was able to swim back to shore and is safe.
News4JAX relied on Page Pate as a valuable resource for a number of high-profile trials and legal proceedings — including Ahmaud Arbery’s case and insights on federal cases.
At his law firm Tuesday, Pate’s partners are collectively mourning his death and speaking about the legal giant Pate was.
“It was never just being a lawyer for Paige, it was really about serving people,” Thomas Church, friend and lawyer, said.
Church told News4JAX he was mentored and eventually hired by Pate five years ago, becoming partners of this law firm in downtown Brunswick. Church said Pate dedicated his life to helping other people navigate the criminal justice system, leaving a profound mark on the world in a good way.
“He taught me something about grace and service,” Church said. “Because we don’t just have our cases. You know, he put information out there that we want people to be able to rely on to get through these tough times. We want people to know they have someone fighting for them.”
He said the horrible news is shocking and that everyone is hurting.
“I know that the first feeling of shock, you know, all of us were in disbelief that this had happened,” Church said. “And now we’re all hurting. And that’s part of the process. But I hope and I know that there’s also going to be a time for us to celebrate all of the really good things he did.”
Pate was a founding member of the Georgia Innocence Project, which helped individuals who have been convicted of crimes they did not commit in the state of Georgia. Church described Pate as a true Southern gentleman, whose generosity and compassion for people were beyond compare.
“What a lot of people didn’t see was Page Pate in the courtroom where he was unmatched. I mean, it was an art to see Page Pate cross-examine a witness or to make an argument to a jury. And that is something that I know will live on through his firm, but everything he’s done to the people outside of practice will live on through the Georgia Innocence Project, and through everything else that Page did to make this world a better place,” Church said.