Transient Held in Deadly Venice Boardwalk Hit-and-Run

VENICE, Calif. (KTLA) — A man remained behind bars on Monday and was expected to be charged with murder after a deadly hit-and-run on the Venice boardwalk.

venice-scene-suspectThe suspect was identified as Nathan Campbell, 38, a Colorado native who sources said had possibly been living in his car.

Campbell was arrested on suspicion of murder and was being held on $1 million bail.

He could make his first court appearance as early as Tuesday.

The incident happened around 6 p.m. on Saturday with hundreds of people around, including families and children.

Campbell allegedly went on a path of terror with his car, crashing into carts, a dozen people and anything else in his way along a quarter-mile stretch of the boardwalk.

One woman was killed and 11 others were injured.

gruppioni-pic

Alice Gruppioni, 32, was killed in the crash.

The deceased victim was identified as Alice Gruppioni, 32, an Italian tourist who was on her honeymoon, authorities said.

She was the daughter of a businessman who was the former executive of Bologna F.C., an Italian Football League club.

Gruppioni died of blunt force trauma to the head and neck, coroner’s officials said Monday.

Gruppioni’s husband, Christian Casadei, suffered only cuts and bruises.

He was treated and left the hospital on Saturday night, according to the Consulate General of Italy in Los Angeles.

The pair married on July 20 and were supposed to board a flight to Tahiti on Monday to continue their vacation.

Casadei said he saw the car coming toward them and thought it was part of a movie shoot, consulate officials said.

Gruppioni’s aunt, sister and father-in-law arrived in Los Angeles on Sunday night, officials said.

“Alice was a remarkable young lady making her personal dreams come true,” her aunt, Katia Gruppioni, said in a statement on Monday.

She described her niece as a “concrete and business oriented person,” but also a romantic.

“…[S]he never ceased to be the romantic and dreaming girl fantasizing about her bridal gown and her meeting Prince Charming, which she actually did,” Gruppioni said.

“She was robbed of her life while living her dream visit to California with her husband and this was a tremendous injustice.”

Meantime, what may have set off Campbell remained a mystery.

venice-crashpic

(Maarten Smitskamp / August 3, 2013)

Surveillance video showed Campbell calmly getting into his car around 6 p.m. on Saturday, just prior to the rampage.

Some witnesses said that Campbell intentionally swerved his vehicle into innocent bystanders.

“We hear screaming and yelling and look down and there’s hundreds of people just diving out of the way,” vendor Naqo Habibi said.

“The next thing we know, I see a blue car coming through with a girl latched onto the hood,” he said.

“He’s like swerving back and forth and the girl rolls off the side, and he’s like heading straight for us. We dive over my booth,” Habibi recalled.

“It was unreal. It looked like bowling, like bowling pins,” witness Sean Peterson said.

After allegedly hitting the first group of people, Campbell didn’t slow down, according to witnesses.

venice-suspect

Nathan Louis Campbell from 2008
(Bay County, Florida)

Several witnesses said he actually sped up his car, traveling even faster down the boardwalk.

They estimated that his driving speed was around 30 mph.

About an hour after the incident, Campbell abandoned his blue Dodge sedan on a nearby street and walked into a Santa Monica police station to surrender.

Campbell asked how many people had been injured, according to police.

“If this was an intentional act, that certainly raises the stakes quite a bit,” said LAPD Lt. Andy Neiman.

“It’s horrendous no matter what the intent was, but the fact that this individual left the scene of these accidents and did not render aid at minimum is felony hit-and-run.”

Public records showed that Campbell had a history of arrests in Denver and in Florida, including a 2008 reckless driving arrest involving alcohol in Panama City Beach, according to the L.A. Times.

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