OCEAN AVE — A former Ford model and trainer at Gold’s Gym in Venice was taken off life support and died Thursday morning after suffering critical injuries when she was hit by a tourist while riding her motorcycle on Ocean Avenue, police said.

Investigators said alcohol played a role in the accident, which occurred Saturday night on the 1700 block of Ocean Avenue.

Sandy DeSoto, 48, of Marina del Rey, was riding her BMW motorcycle after watching a boxing match with friends when a 74-year-old man from New Jersey made an illegal U-turn and drove directly in DeSoto’s path. DeSoto struck the driver’s side of the car and was thrown from her motorcycle, SMPD Sgt. Richard Lewis said.

Paramedics treated DeSoto at the scene and she was transported to a local hospital with severe injuries.

Lewis said the driver was arrested for driving under the influence and was later released after posting bail. DeSoto is believed to have been drinking before the accident, Lewis added. The driver was staying at a local hotel with his wife, the two in town for a family member’s graduation.

Lewis said no criminal charges have been filed yet, but a case could be submitted to the District Attorney’s Office next week. The accident is still under investigation.

DeSoto was a popular trainer at Gold’s Gym, where a memorial was created to honor her, a member of the gym told the Daily Press. Employees at Gold’s did not return phone calls seeking comment. Anyone with information should contact Detective Chris Dawson at (310) 458-8954 or Sgt. Jeff Wiles at (310) 458-8950 or the Santa Monica Police Department (24 hours) at (310) 458-8495.

DeSoto was born in Minnesota, lived in Los Angeles until she was 10 and then moved with her parents to Guatemala where she attended high school and college, according to a biography posted on DeSoto’s website, www.definedbodies.com

As a kid, DeSoto trained in horse jumping and track, where she held records in the 100, 200 and 400 meters, hurdles, high jump and the long jump. She was also involved in motor cross until an accident derailed her athletic career.

It was that accident that led her to study weight training and nutrition. DeSoto eventually became a trainer, fitness therapist and nutritionist with over 20 years of experience. She was also a certified rescue diver and licensed cosmetologist, according to the website.

“Beauty starts from the inside and builds out, after all,” she wrote on the site.

Her passions included her work, pets, her boat and riding her motorcycle.

“I love the desert, it’s remarkably beautiful and so serene, I was drawn to buy a home there where I enjoy gardening, listening to music, and hiking with my three dogs,” she wrote on the site.

kevinh@www.smdp.com

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