Transient allegedly drives onto crowded boardwalk, injuring dozens

LOS ANGELES -- When he first saw the blue Dodge sedan screech around a corner at the Venice boardwalk, Mustafa Balci assumed that a driver had gotten confused and would quickly turn around.

But the car didn't turn around. It sped ahead Saturday evening, striking a metal trash can, destroying a table and then continuing "like a train" through the tent where Balci sells pendants, hitting his knees and flipping his wife through the air.

Police identified the driver of the Dodge as Nathan Campbell, 38, a transient who was arrested on suspicion of murder in connection with the hit-and-run crash that left one dead and 11 injured.

About an hour after the rampage, Campbell abandoned his blue sedan on a nearby street and walked into a police station to turn himself in, police said. Campbell, a Colorado native who sources said was possibly living in his car, is being held in lieu of $1-million bail. Police said Campbell asked how many people had been injured.

Alice Gruppioni, 32, an Italian tourist on her honeymoon, was killed, police and fire officials said. Gruppioni's husband, Christian Casadei, also of Italy, was hospitalized with minor injuries, according to European news media.

Another victim, whose name has not been released because of privacy laws, was listed in good condition Sunday atRonald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Four other people were treated at the hospital and released. Others suffered minor injuries and were released or being treated at local hospitals.

Courtesy LA Times

Yet not everybody found it easy to move on.

"If I was sitting a few inches to the left or to the right, I would have died," said Balci, whose wife landed in a nearby patch of grass after being thrown in the air by the car. Both were taken to a hospital with minor cuts and bruises.

Witnesses said the car appeared to reach speeds up to 60 mph as it raced roughly a quarter of a mile down the boardwalk — officially called Ocean Front Walk. The driver seemed to go out of his way to hit pedestrians.

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