One dead, 11 injured, when car drives through Los Angeles boardwalk

Injured pedestrians are attended to after a car crashes into pedestrians on the boardwalk in Venice Beach, California August 3, 2013 in this handout photo courtesy of Maarten Smitskamp.
HANDOUT | Reuters
Injured pedestrians are attended to after a car crashes into pedestrians on the boardwalk in Venice Beach, California August 3, 2013 in this handout photo courtesy of Maarten Smitskamp.
Posted Aug. 04, 2013, at 9:03 a.m.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — A motorist drove a car through the popular Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles on Saturday, killing one person and injuring 11 others in a hit-and-run incident that spanned several city blocks, authorities said.

“There was a hit-and-run and the vehicle is in custody. The driver fled on foot. There is a possible suspect who has been detained,” said Daniel Chun, spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department.

Witnesses described the driver as a white man in his mid-20s with sandy blond hair, and the detained suspect fit that description, said Los Angeles Police Lieutenant Andy Neiman.

“We have a vehicle in custody … with collision damage consistent with what happened out here,” Neiman said, adding it was a four-door, dark-colored Dodge Avenger.

Witnesses said the car traveled as fast as 20 miles per hour (32 kph) down the oceanside pedestrian walkway at around 6 p.m., said Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department.

The driver ditched his car in nearby Santa Monica, Neiman said. The suspect who police have detained and are questioning turned himself in after the incident.

Police do not know the driver’s motive or if he had been drinking, Neiman said, adding that the suspect will face homicide charges in addition to felony hit-and-run charges.

Ten of the 12 people injured were taken to hospitals — two in critical condition, one of whom died, and two in serious condition. Of the eight who sustained minor injuries, two declined hospital treatment, Humphrey said.

Injuries included broken bones, head trauma and soft tissue damage, Humphrey said, adding that more than 100 emergency responders were on scene and crews had set up a triage area to treat those injured.

Local CBS affiliate KCAL9 quoted witnesses as saying the driver appeared to be trying to strike pedestrians.

A man who said he worked at a nearby cafe told NBC4 that he heard what sounded like a car hurtling down an alleyway, followed by screams.

“Firefighters never saw the vehicle, and we never saw the driver,” Humphrey said.

The Venice Beach boardwalk is a major tourist attraction known for its eclectic patchwork of shops, restaurants and sporting areas.

In 2003, an elderly man drove his car through a crowded farmers’ market in nearby Santa Monica, killing 10 people and injuring 69.

 

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