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Vendors recall hit-and-run driver at LA boardwalk

 

In this still frame made from security camera footage, pedestrians scatter as a car drives through a packed afternoon crowd along the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles, Saturday.

In this still frame made from security camera footage, pedestrians scatter as a car drives through a packed afternoon crowd along the Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles, Saturday. Photo by: AP Photo/Snapchat Inc.

 

The Associated Press

 

LOS ANGELES -- One minute, Mustafa Balci was sitting in a lawn chair next to his wife at their booth on the Venice Beach boardwalk, enjoying the leisurely summer scene. 

 

The next minute, the couple was lying on the ground along with the other injured after a man accelerated his large black car through a crowd, hitting one person after another as people tried desperately to get out of the way. 

 

Saturday's hit-and-run killed an Italian woman on her honeymoon and hurt 11 others who only a moment earlier had been enjoying a late afternoon near the beach at the height of vacation season. 

 

Balci's booth was struck within seconds of the start of the rampage. The car swerved left, sideswiping a picnic table holding the couple's wares -- the traditional Turkish blue glassware of the eye to ward off the evil eye, and wall hangings of Jesus and Virgin Mary tapestries. 

 

The car hit three customers looking at the items, and slammed into Balci's knees pushing him backward, breaking a table, smashing a mirror and scattering everything. His wife, Yesim Balci, was flung 8 feet, tumbling backward and landing facedown. 

 

By the time it was over, the driver had covered about a quarter of a mile along the boardwalk before speeding away. The entire incident was over in minutes. 

 

"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,'" Mustafa Balci said. "I thought both of us would be dead."

 

 

 

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