Sunday, August 4, 2013

Venice boardwalk: Parade goes on, sightseers back in crash aftermath - Los Angeles Times

Despite Saturday's deadly hit-and-run crash in Venice, there were signs Sunday that life on the famed boardwalk was continuing on as usual.

The 37th annual Festival of the Chariots parade, sponsored by the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, proceeded along the boardwalk shortly after 11 a.m. and passed the crash site, where one person was killed and 11 injured Saturday evening. The colorful parade is part of a yearly festival that includes entertainment, food and arts and craft booths.  

One woman said that what happened the night before was sad, but that festivalgoers just want to spread peace and happiness. By noon Sunday, thousands of people were back strolling on the boardwalk and the beach.   

PHOTOS: Venice boardwalk crash

Earlier, police announced the arrest of Nathan Campbell, 38, who was booked on suspicion of murder in connection with the Venice crash. Campbell, who turned himself into police after the crash Saturday night, is being held on $1 million bail.

Police investigators are still trying to determine a motive. Witnesses told police that it looked like the driver of the vehicle who entered the boardwalk about 6 p.m. Saturday was deliberately trying to hit people before fleeing the scene.

Campbell later turned himself into police.

The deceased victim was identified Sunday morning as Alice Gruppioni, 32, who was on her honeymoon from Bologna, Italy, police and fire officials said. Several videos have emerged showing the crash.

Walter Estrada, 42, a vendor on the boardwalk, said the suspect's car hit the tent next to his.

"He was trying to kill everyone," Estrada said. He said he ran toward the beach, away from the vehicle's path.

"It happened so fast," he said. "I was trying to protect myself."

He said it took a long time for police and firefighters to arrive on scene, about 15 minutes. In the meantime, everyone tried to help the injured.

Estrada said he's always felt safe on the boardwalk, but not after last night.

"Anyone can get in," he said.

There are existing barriers on Dudley Avenue where the suspect entered the boardwalk. It appears he may have driven around them.

Estrada said adding another pillar to further block cars would prevent emergency vehicles from responding quickly to the area and that a bigger police presence, or some kind of station where officers can see what's happening on the boardwalk would improve safety.

"The guy was crazy," he said.

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samantha.schaefer@latimes.com


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