• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Venice Beach boardwalk fatal car crash: Arrest made, new surveillance

August 4, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Police have made an arrest after a driver mowed down pedestrians at the popular Venice Beach boardwalk, killing one person and injuring nearly a dozen others.

Los Angeles police identified the suspect as 38-year-old Nathan Louis Campbell. Police say he is a transient. He was booked for investigation of murder and is being held on $1 million bail.

Officials say they expect more charges will be filed against Campbell. Investigators have not yet said what they think the motive might have been, but they are awaiting toxicology results to see if drugs or alcohol may have been a factor.

The coroner's office identified 32-year-old Alice Gruppioni from Italy as the fatality. She died Saturday at a local hospital. Detectives confirmed that she was on her honeymoon.

She and her husband, Christian, reportedly married two weeks ago. Witnesses say her devastated husband couldn't leave her side as she lay gravely injured on the boardwalk.

"It was just really sad to see because that guy was just sitting down to her left just talking to her at first," said Richard Ruiz. "Right when I got there, she was speaking a little. But after that, the next thing you know she just stopped talking."

Gruppioni managed a business in her hometown and her father is the former president of the Bologna soccer team. Her husband was also injured. The couple's families have arrived in Los Angeles.

Of the 11 injured, one person was reported in critical condition, two were said to be in serious condition and eight others reported minor injuries. Officials say five of those injured have been released from area hospitals. Emergency officials said all patients were pedestrians along the boardwalk.

Early Sunday, the boardwalk was closed to the public as officials continued their investigation. Later in the morning, the boardwalk began to return to normal, as vendors and others were allowed back in.

Surveillance video from the Candle Cafe & Grill shows the suspect before the incident. He is seen calmly parking his car around 6 p.m., then walking off for a short time. Minutes later, he is seen getting back inside the car. Suddenly, the car lurches forward toward the boardwalk. Another angle of the footage shows the car speeding around the corner before disappearing from sight.

Witnesses say the driver swerved back and forth, as if trying to hit as many people as possible.

"He had to have pressed his foot to the gas, pedal to the metal, because his tires started screeching," said witness Landon Blackburn. "I saw him, and he was looking for blood. That guy, his intention was to kill people."

The vehicle was later located in a Santa Monica neighborhood. Authorities believe the driver ditched the car after the deadly collision. Sources say the person then surrendered to the Santa Monica Police Department.

The deadly crash has spurred an effort to install better barriers between cars and the boardwalk.

Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin said though the crash was clearly a malicious act, drivers do mistakenly drive onto the boardwalk several time a day. He believes more barriers known as bollards should be installed to prevent non-emergency vehicles from entering the walkway.

"I think this is a case where a tragedy has shown us a vulnerability, and it gives us an opportunity to act and use some common sense," Bonin said. "I don't think that the bollards would do anything to impede the flow of what's supposed to be an oceanfront walk."

The owners of Candle Cafe & Grill are setting up a fund for the victims of this tragedy. They will be holding a fundraiser Monday, Aug. 5.

You can send donations in care of "North Venice Beach Vendors" to:

Candle Cafe & Grill
325 Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

Load Comments