Colorado Man, 38, Charged with Murder for Venice Beach Hit-and-Run Killing Italian Newlywed
By Paul Chavez, Venice Dispatch
A 38-year-old Colorado man was charged Tuesday with murder and other counts for allegedly driving his car onto the Venice Beach boardwalk over the weekend and killing an Italian woman on her honeymoon.
Nathan Campbell was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon at the Los Angeles Superior Court’s Airport Branch, according to a statment from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Campbell was charged with one count of murder and 16 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 17 counts of hit-and-run, said Head Deputy District Attorney Gary Hearnsberger with the Major Crimes Division. The complaint includes the special allegation of use of a deadly weapon, a Dodge Avenger car.
Deputy District Attorney Victor Avila was expected to ask that Campbell’s bail be set at $1.48 million.
Campbell allegedly drove his 2008 Dodge Avenger onto the busy Venice boardwalk about 6 p.m. after entering from Dudley Avenue and speeding south toward Sunset Avenue.
He killed Alice Gruppioni, 32, of Italy, and struck 16 others, including her husband Christian Casadei. The couple wed July 20 and Los Angeles was a dream destination for the newlyweds. Of the 16 injured victims, eight are female and eight are male.
Campbell abandoned the vehicle at Ocean Park Boulevard and Beverly Avenue and turned himself into Santa Monica police about two hours after the mayhem broke loose.
If convicted, Campbell faces up to life in prison.
In a related matter, the Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday voted 14-0 to install temporary traffic barriers to restrict vehicular access to the popular boardwalk in wake of the tragedy.
City Councilman Mike Bonin, 46, on Tuesday introduced a new public safety motion that will immediately restrict vehicular access to the boardwalk with the installation of temporary traffic barriers.
The motion submitted by Bonin also called for a public safety needs assessment to be completed within 14 days.
“Hindsight is always 20/20, but this tragedy also affords us a rare opportunity to allow foresight to come into focus,” Bonin said in a statement. “This horrible incident showed vulnerabilities at the boardwalk and we have an obligation to do everything in our power to ensure this sort of tragedy cannot happen again.”
Bonin’s motion asked the LAPD, Los Angeles Fire Department, Department of Recreation and Park, which manages the Venice Boardwalk and other city agencies to examine ways to restirct non-essential vehicle access at each boardwalk intersection between the northern border with Santa Monica and Venice Boulevard.
As many as 15 to 20 cars accidentally drive on to Ocean Front Walk each day, Bonin’s statement said. Restricting access would help prevent cars from unintentionally threatening pedestrians on the boardwalk.
The public safety needs study will consider whether bollards, which are pier-like post of steel or concrete, should be installed at selected streets and sidewalks. It also will consider proposals for more street lighting, installation of a public address system and expanded surveillance cameras along the popular boardwalk.
Bonin lead a community vigil Monday night in honor of the victims of the boardwalk hit-and-run who gatherd on the boardwalk near the scene.
The newly elected councilman announced a brief prayer to a large circle of bowed heads and television news cameras, called for a moment of silence and lead a brief procession south to the area where Alice Gruppioni was fatally struck.
A growing memorial of condolences has been growing on the site and Bonin laid a flower along with dozens of others of community members who were passed flowers donated by Whole Foods.
When You Wish, a Silicon Beach startup made up of Venice residents, also has used its rowdfunding platform to support victms of the boardwalk crash with tax deductible donations including goods and services available at http://www.whenyouwish.com/venice.
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