Lawsuit filed against LA in Venice Boardwalk crash

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A card of a photo of Italian newlyweds Alice Gruppioni, left, and her husband Christian Casadei, on a makeshift memorial for Gruppioni along Ocean Front Walk at Venice Beach in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

A card of a photo of Italian newlyweds Alice Gruppioni, left, and her husband Christian Casadei, on a makeshift memorial for Gruppioni along Ocean Front Walk at Venice Beach in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The family of an Italian woman who was killed when a motorist drove down the Venice boardwalk last summer filed a claim today against the city of Los Angeles, contending steps should have been taken to protect people who visit the popular tourist spot.

Alice Gruppioni, 32, was killed Aug. 3 when a car driven by Nathan Louis Campbell, 38, swerved down the boardwalk, sending people scattering in all directions. More than a dozen other people were injured.

Campbell is facing one count of murder, 17 counts of assault with a deadly weapon and 10 counts of leaving the scene of an accident.

“Whenever you have cars driving on a public worldwide tourist attraction, that creates and poses dangers to the public,” attorney Greg Bentley, who represents Gruppioni’s family, told ABC7. “We want the city to recognize that and we want the city to take protective measures to protect against this dangerous condition.”

City officials had no immediate response to the claim, which is the precursor to a lawsuit. The claim coincided, however, with the release of a report by the city Department of Recreation and Parks that made a series of recommendations for improving safety on the boardwalk, including an automated barrier system, better lighting and security cameras.

The claim seeks unspecified damages.

The city has been studying possible ways of improving barricades to ensure vehicles are not driven along the walk. Some temporary barriers were installed shortly after Gruppioni was killed.

At a court hearing earlier this month, Campbell’s attorney Philip Dube said his client “never intended to hurt anybody or to kill that young lady.”

Dube said Campbell “panicked” when he experienced a problem with the shift lever on the 2008 Dodge Avenger he had bought a few weeks earlier at a used car dealership in Colorado. The lawyer said his client was struggling to get the Avenger out of the parking gear when he gunned the sedan and it went forward.

Campbell is due back in court March 13.

 

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