Venice boardwalk crash: Man, 38, arrested on suspicion of murder

Venice Beach police investigate the scene where a person drove his car into a crowded Venice Beach boardwalk, injuring 12 people and fleeing the scene.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

This post has been corrected. See note below.

The 38-year-old man arrested in connection with Saturday’s deadly hit-and-run incident on the Venice boardwalk was booked on suspicion of murder, police said.

At a press conference Sunday morning on the boardwalk, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesman said the suspect, Nathan Campbell, was being held on $1-million bail.

Officials did not provide more details or a possible motive for the incident.


PHOTOS: Venice boardwalk crash

The deceased victim was identified Sunday morning as Alice Gruppioni, 32, of Italy, according to police and fire officials.

Late Saturday, authorities said a person of interest was being questioned in connection with the incident after turning himself in at a Santa Monica police station. Los Angeles Police Department Lt. Andy Neiman said the man told police he was “connected” to the incident.

The car involved in the crash was found abandoned.

Several videos have emerged showing the crash, which left one person dead and at least 11 others hurt, including one in critical condition.

One of the videos showed a dark black sedan plowing into people on the boardwalk. Another video captured the chaotic scene after the crash.

Witnesses said they believed the driver was traveling about 60 mph — others cited slower speeds — when the crash occurred about 6 p.m. Saturday near the boardwalk’s intersection with Dudley Avenue, just before the sun began to set on the tourist haven. Witnesses said “scores of people” were walking along the beach.

“The vehicle appeared to be moving purposefully down the boardwalk, according to witnesses,” Humphrey said. He said firefighters responding to the scene thought the driver might have had some kind of medical emergency, but the vehicle did not stop.

“A car plowed through the boardwalk,” said Daniel Regidor, 50, who was running nearby when the crash occurred.

“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,” Regidor said. “When I came upon the scene, there were a bunch of people on the ground, bloodied.”

Daniel Jenkins, 19, was selling medical marijuana-related art and souvenirs on the pedestrian walkway and witnessed the incident.

Jenkins said he saw a blue Charger turn off a side street onto the pedestrian walkway going about 35 mph.

“He started basically losing control,” Jenkins said.

He said he saw the vehicle hit a woman who sells turtles and a man who appeared to be homeless.

“All the turtles flew everywhere,” as did mannequins outside of storefronts, Jenkins said..

He said the vehicle appeared to speed up after it hit the pedestrians and “zoomed all the way down” for several blocks.

The famed boardwalk is a cultural hub known for its eccentricities. Galleries, restaurants, tattoo shops, skateboard parks and the famous outdoor weight room known as Muscle Beach attract locals and tourists alike.

The crash spurred many, including nearby lifeguards, to race “to the aid of strangers,” Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Brian Humphrey said.

[For the record, 9:50 a.m. Aug. 4: This post initially said that suspect Nathan Campell was 35. But an LAPD spokesman gave his birthday as Aug. 1, 1975, making him 38.]


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