Boardwalk hit-and-run suspect tested positive for alcohol, police say
The man charged in August’s fatal hit-and-run on the Venice boardwalk had a blood-alcohol level of 0.16% -- twice the legal limit -- when police tested his breath five hours after the incident, according to testimony at a preliminary hearing Wednesday.
When Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, turned himself in at Santa Monica Police Department headquarters, he said he purchased and drank a pint of vodka a few minutes after authorities say he drove his vehicle onto the boardwalk, killing an Italian woman on her honeymoon and injuring 16 others.
Based on police testimony and storefront surveillance video shown in court, Campbell parked his 2008 Dodge Avenger along Dudley Avenue about 5:55 p.m. Twice, he walked from the car to beachside pagodas.
At 5:59 p.m., authorities say, the car raced a few feet down Dudley and then onto the boardwalk. Witnesses and victims have previously testified that the driver of the Dodge never stopped or honked a horn and that the car appeared to aiming for people even as they tried to flee.
Campbell’s car, with temporary Colorado plates, was found parked outside an apartment complex on Beverley Avenue near Hollister Street, Santa Monica police Officer Ismael Tevira told the court. Photos showed paint scratches on the hood and front bumper, damage to the driver-side headlight and scratches on the sides.
In the trunk, police found two California license plates that had been reported missing.
Los Angeles Police Det. Charles Knolls testified that a jewelry charm -- similar to ones sold by a boardwalk vendor struck that evening -- was on the driver’s seat. Other pieces of jewelry were found in the door frame and a front tire.
A certificate for passing a sobriety program sat on the backseat, Knolls testified. Campbell had been kicked out of a house for recovering alcohol and drug abusers in early June for violating the program’s substance abuse policy, Knolls said.
Los Angeles police eventually spoke to Campbell just before 11 p.m. on the night of the incident. He smelled of alcohol and struggled with field sobriety tests, Sgt. Benjamin Zucker said.
Campbell told Zucker that he had his last drink of the vodka at 6:30 p.m.
Alice Gruppioni, 32, died about 45 minutes after she was struck. She and her husband, Christian Casadei, both from Italy, were on their honeymoon.
A judge is expected to decide Jan. 2 whether there is enough evidence against Campbell to take the case to trial.
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