North America

Witnesses say driver appeared to aim for beachgoers

Witnesses described a scene of terror and mayhem and said the driver appeared to be aiming for people when a car plowed into a weekend crowd of pedestrians on the boardwalk at Venice Beach in Los Angeles.
"That guy's intention was to kill people," Landon Blackburn told KABC-TV after the Saturday evening incident that left one person dead and 11 others injured.
"Bodies were flying in the air and people were screaming,'' Dave Blackburn told the station. "It was absolute mayhem."
Los Angeles police arrested a man Sunday in connection with the deadly incident at the popular beach, a tourist attraction that is normally crowded with vendors, performers, artists and tourists.
Nathan Campbell, 38, who turned himself into police a few hours after the incident, was booked on suspicion of murder and remained jailed on $1 million bail, police said at a news conference Sunday. Officials did not provide additional details or a possible motive for the incident, which occurred around 6 p.m. local time Saturday.
"There no indication that he knew anybody that he hit," LAPD Cmdr. Andy Smith said, according to CNN. "It looks like this guy wanted to run over a bunch of people. One guy bent on doing evil."
The dead woman was identified as Alice Gruppioni, 32, of Italy, who was on her honeymoon,
By Sunday afternoon, the beach and boardwalk were again filled with visitors.
A Los Angeles city council member, Mike Bonin, told the Los Angeles Times he would push to have temporary barriers installed within the next two weeks to prevent vehicles from gaining access to the board walk.
The victim died at a hospital a few hours after the crash, Los Angeles police Lt. Andy Neiman said, according to the Associated Press. Police said another victim was critically injured, two were in serious condition and others were treated for less serious injuries.
Witnesses on the boardwalk at the time of the crash described a horrifying scene.
"A car plowed through the boardwalk," Daniel Regidor, 50, told the Los Angeles Times. "People screaming, running. I was half a mile from the scene, but you could see just this mass of people trying to get out of the way. … Just a lot of people screaming. … It was horrible.
"I saw somebody flying up in the air," said Regidor, who was running nearby when the crash occurred. "When I came upon the scene, there were a bunch of people on the ground, bloodied."
Security video from the scene shows a man parking his black car alongside the seaside boardwalk as the sun sank, surveying the idyllic scene for several minutes before getting back into the car and speeding into the crowd.
"There was people kind of stumbling around, blood dripping down their legs looking confused not knowing what had happened, people screaming," said 35-year-old Louisa Hodge, according to the Associated Press "It was blocks and blocks of people just strewn across the sidewalk."
According to the security video and witness accounts, a man with a baseball cap, gray shirt and white pants parked next to the Cadillac Hotel, twice walking out to the boardwalk before getting into the Dodge Avenger and accelerating, swerving around yellow poles meant to prevent cars from getting into the pedestrian-only area and onto the boardwalk.
Some witnesses said the vehicle appeared to speed up as it hit pedestrians.
"The boardwalk was packed with people, and he sped up and purposefully — it looked like purposefully — was just swerving back and forth to run over as many people as he could," Laura Blackburn, who was dining with her family on a sidewalk patio, said, according to CNN.
The car hit at least three vendors who were sitting at their sales booths, video showed.
Daniel Jenkins, 19, was selling medical marijuana-related art and souvenirs on the pedestrian walkway and told the Los Angeles Times he saw the vehicle hit a woman who was selling turtles.
"All the turtles flew everywhere," as did mannequins outside of storefronts, Jenkins said.

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