Imagine a day with the sun shining, birds singing and all around were the friendly faces of people enjoying the beauty of the Venice Beach Boardwalk. This describes the day for one, 32 year old, Alice Gruppioni; it was blissful. She had entered the land of matrimony on July 20 and had traveled to Los Angeles on her honeymoon. Taking in the sights and warmed by the idea that she would spend the rest of her life with her beloved husband the day took a drastic turn.
A life cut short when 38 year old Nathan Louis Campbell, drove his car head on into a crowd of unsuspecting people. 11 innocent bystanders were injured but only one was killed, the new wife of a now devastated husband. According to surveillance video, Campbell was seen sitting outside a hotel and surveying the boardwalk. Several hundred people were drawn to the area and were shopping at the many vendor stations or viewing the sights as they walked along the seashore. Campbell was seen getting into his black car, easing past the traffic barrier and accelerating onto the crowded boardwalk.
One witness, Alex Hagan, said, “People were trying to chase down the car which was traveling at speeds up to 40-60 miles per hour on the boardwalk.” Louisa Hodge described the scene best when she said, “People were stumbling around, looking confused as blood dripped down their legs; not knowing what had just happened, while others were screaming. There were people for blocks just sprawled across the sidewalk.” Among some of the screams of chaos, one of the loudest was the cries from Gruppioni’s husband, Christian, as he struggled to get to her side. One witness said that she along with others had to hold him back while she received medical attention. He just kept screaming her name over and over.
Mustafa Blaci, 44, and his wife were also caught up in the incident that happened over mere minutes. Three customers that had been shopping were struck by the moving car and collided with Blaci, sending him sailing backward breaking a table, smashing a mirror and sending everything scattering. His wife, Yesim Balci,48, was thrown backward 8 feet, landing face down
Mustafa Balci said quietly, “I thought both of us would be dead.” Balci, his wife and the three customers were all taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and treated for minor injuries and then released.
This trauma didn’t stop the couple from returning the next day to take inventory of their losses. They found the boardwalk back in full swing; with crowds of people, some on rollerblades, performers and regular vendors. The Balci’s estimated approximately 90 percent of their goods were broken along with homemade goods which had been shipped from Turkey, totaling near $6,000. Without health insurance and now no goods to support them their future started to look bleak. Currently they’re not sure how they will account for their losses.
Authorities apprehended Nathan Louis Campbell and charged him with murder. He remained jailed Sunday on $1 million bail. People are asking the city to put up more barriers to prevent accidents like this from happening.
L.A. City Councilman Mike Bonin, who oversees the Venice Beach area, agrees with the sentiment but adds that with more barriers in place it will make it more complicated for people with disabilities’ and emergency vehicles to get onto the boardwalk.
Time will tell whether or not additional barriers will be added but for now, a husband who was enjoying his honeymoon will return to Italy a widower.
By: KyAuna Alonzo