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Driver In Deadly Venice Beach Hit-And-Run Was A Transient, Motive Still Not Known

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Police say they do not yet know the motive of the driver in Saturday's deadly rampage in Venice Beach, and are awaiting the results of toxicology tests to see if drugs or alcohol played a part.

On Saturday, around 6 p.m., 38-year-old Nathan Campbell drove his Dodge Avenger onto the boardwalk and, according to witnesses, deliberately began mowing down pedestrians.

He killed one woman, newlywed Alice Gruppioni of Italy, and injured 11 others, including her husband of two weeks, Christian Casadei, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Campbell later turned himself into police and was booked for investigation of murder. He is being held on $1 million bail and is expected in court on Tuesday. According to the L.A. Times, Campbell is a Colorado native believed to have been living in his car. Officials have not released the suspect's mug shot.

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Of the 11 injured, one person was reported in critical condition, two were said to be in serious condition and eight others reported minor injuries. Officials tell City News Service that five of those injured have been released from area hospitals.

A small ceremony will be held at 5 p.m. today in Venice for those affected by the tragedy, ABC7 reports. The vigil will take place outside the Candle Café & Grill; the restaurant has also set up a fund for the vendors who were injured. Many of the sidewalk vendors who frequent the boardwalk don't have insurance, Fox11 reported this morning.

One of those vendors, Mustafa Balci, told the Times that when he first saw the car on the boardwalk, he figured a driver had simply become confused and would quickly turn around and leave. Instead, it kept coming, "like a train" through the tent where he sells handmade pendants.

"If I was sitting a few inches to the left or to the right, I would have died," Balci told the newspaper. He was hit by the car (he showed off two bandages on his knees to Fox11); his wife, Yesim Balci, was flung 8 feet, according to KPCC.

"I couldn't see her when I woke up, I looked up and was like where is she? I yelled, 'Are you around? Are you alive?' She yelled back, 'I'm alive,'" Balci told KPCC. "I thought both of us would be dead." He was helped up by strangers who took him to his wife, who had hurt her ankle and arm. They were treated at Cedars-Sinai and released, although still badly shaken and bruised.

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Witnesses said Sunday that the car appeared to reach speeds near 60 mph and traveled about a quarter of a mile down the boardwalk. The rampage only took seconds.

Donations for the injured vendors can be sent in care of "North Venice Beach Vendors" to:
Candle Café & Grill
325 Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291

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