Police question man in deadly Venice Beach crash
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police are investigating Sunday, the morning after a car screeched across a sidewalk and drove into a crowd of people, apparently intentionally, killing one and injuring 11 others on a popular beach boardwalk.
Authorities questioned a man who turned himself in about an hour after the chaos Saturday evening, calling him a person of interest. His name was not immediately released.
Security video taken from the scene of the Venice Beach boardwalk, shows a man parking his black car, stepping out and surveying the leisurely scene for several minutes before getting back into the vehicle and speeding into the crowd. Hundreds of people were walking or sitting at cafes when the car sent them scrambling wildly before it sped out of sight.
Witnesses reported a horrifying aftermath.
People were ” stumbling around, blood dripping down their legs, looking confused not knowing what had happened, people screaming,” said Louisa Hodge, 35. She said there were “blocks and blocks of people just strewn across the sidewalk.”
Injured people were taken to the hospital where one died. The victim’s identity has not been disclosed.
Authorities said one victim was in critical condition and two others were in serious condition. The others suffered minor injuries.
Afterward, police began to circulate word that they were searching for a black Dodge with a driver in his 20s. Around that time a man walked into a police station in neighboring Santa Monica and told officers he was involved, Los Angeles police Lt. Andy Neiman said Saturday night.
Police then found a car nearby that they believe belonged to the man, he said. Detectives questioned the man to determine whether he was the driver.
Authorities at the scene, meanwhile, searched for evidence at the cultural hub in a part of Los Angeles known for eccentricities. The 1.5-mile ribbon of asphalt that runs along the sand a few hundred yards from the ocean is home to galleries, restaurants, tattoo shops, skateboard parks and the famous outdoor weight room known as Muscle Beach. It can draw as many as 150,000 people on summer weekends.
According to the security video and witness accounts, the driver parked next to the Cadillac Hotel, twice walking out to the boardwalk before getting into the Dodge Avenger and accelerating, swerving around yellow poles meant to prevent cars from getting into the pedestrian-only area and onto the boardwalk.
“I heard a big ‘boom, boom,’ like the sound of someone going up and down the curb, it was super loud,” said Alex Hagan, 22, who was working the desk at the Cadillac Hotel and watched the scene unfold from the start.
The man knocked over two mannequins then started hitting people, swerving from side to side and often running straight into them.
The car hit at least three vendors who were sitting at their sales booths, video showed.
The vehicle hit two women who appeared to be in their 60s, Hagan said.
Many ran after the car, screaming and cursing as it sped away, he said.
Hodge said she and her friend, Ashley Taylor, 31, had made note of the numbers walking along the seaside.
“It was a really nice day, there were tons of people out, in fact, we were talking about how packed it was, because we were having a hard time getting through all the people,” said Hodge.
The two women stepped into a store to buy a couple of hats, in a move that may have saved their lives. They stepped out to see the aftermath, as emergency crews arrived and started putting victims on tarps.
Hodge saw one man and woman lying next to each other, wearing head braces, barely able to move.
“They were just laying next to each other and grasping hands,” Hodge said, “just a man and a woman holding hands.”