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SUV jumps curb in Venice, kills 1

Times Staff Writer

One person was killed and three injured when an SUV plowed into a crowd on a Venice sidewalk Sunday afternoon in front of St. Mark Catholic Church.

The driver, who had just attended Mass, told witnesses and police that she accidentally stepped on the accelerator when her daughter, a passenger, suffered a seizure.

Witnesses described a scene of pandemonium as the silver Nissan drove up onto a sidewalk filled with churchgoers, pinning a man against a flower bed and striking several women.

Three women and a man were taken to hospitals. One 28-year-old woman later died, according to Los Angeles police and Fire Department spokesmen. Two victims were in critical condition.

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“It was a terrible accident, terrible,” said Maria Marquez-Cornejo, who had attended the service with her mother. “Everyone was yelling and screaming. There were bodies and blood all over.”

Two girls screamed, “My daddy, my daddy!” as parishioners lifted the SUV off their father, Marquez-Cornejo said. “They were frantic.”

Teresa Marquez, Marquez-Cornejo’s mother, said the driver told her that the accident occurred when she turned to the back seat, where her adult daughter was having an epileptic seizure.

“She was really frightened and really scared,” Marquez said in Spanish. “She didn’t know what was going to happen.”

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Speaking of those in the vehicle, Marquez-Cornejo added, “They were in total disbelief. You could see it in their faces.”

Father Michael Rocha, St. Mark’s pastor, said more than 300 people had attended the Spanish-language noon Mass at the small stucco church at Coeur D’ Alene and Naples avenues.

The crowd had thinned out, but about 30 parishioners were talking on the sidewalk when the vehicle jumped the curb and slammed into the group shortly after 1 p.m.

Rocha said he believed that along with the driver and her daughter, the woman’s 91-year-old mother was in the SUV.

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jack.leonard@latimes.com

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Times staff writer Bettina Boxall contributed to this report.

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