A driver is facing manslaughter charges after authorities say he struck and killed four Pepperdine University students on the Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu on Tuesday night.
The crash happened around 8:30 p.m. in the 21600 block of PCH, near La Costa Beach and east of the Malibu Pier, authorities said.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials identified the driver as Fraser Michael Bohm during a Wednesday afternoon news conference.
Bohm, 22, had been released from custody pending further investigation, Deputy Roger Schalkx said.
The first victim to be identified by family members was 20-year-old Los Angeles native Niamh Rolston. Rolston was a business major at Pepperdine and was set to graduate with the class of 2024.
Her 21st birthday would have been next month, her family said.
Pepperdine is located roughly four miles north of where the crash occurred.
“No day is more devastating to a tightly knit university community than the day that forces us to come together in grief and sorrow,” Pepperdine President Jim Gash said in a statement. “One of the greatest mysteries of life is when and why our time on this earth is cut short. In such times, we hold firm to our faith in the God who sustains and nourishes us even when -and especially when- we experience life’s most significant losses.”
Investigators said Bohm was speeding in his dark-colored BMW westbound on PCH when he lost control, sideswiped several parked vehicles, and crashed into a group of young women who were walking in the area.
Four victims were pronounced dead at the scene. Two others were taken to a nearby hospital in unknown conditions.
Bohm was arrested on charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. A DUI investigation is still pending, LASD said.
Witnesses say that they saw the driver get out of his wrecked car unharmed before being pinned to the ground by several people.
A woman who has lived in the area for many years told KTLA that the stretch of Pacific Coast Highway is known as “Dead Man’s Curve” due to the high number of accidents, nearly all of which involve speeding drivers.
“Every six months there’s another accident,” the woman, who did not want to appear on camera, told KTLA 5’s Carlos Herrera. “There was one three months ago, there was one four months ago, and they are all within these five to six houses.”
The woman believes that the only way to stop the crashes is to modify the road physically or lower the speed limit.
“They need to put flashers up … or put some road bumps, or lower it down to 35 miles per hour,” she said. “Because nobody goes 45, everybody goes 55.”
Sheriff’s Department Captain Jennifer Seeto echoed the same sentiment at Wednesday’s news briefing.
“There are too many people on this stretch of highway that have been killed,” she said. “We are working with the community … to make sure that people are educated about the dangers of PCH, and to slow down.”
Seeto said the department is considering speed cameras, similar to the ones set to be installed in three other Southern California cities.
For the victims’ families, friends and Pepperdine classmates, however, no traffic improvements can mitigate their loss.
“In the days ahead, we will come together in meaningful ways to honor and celebrate the lives of the remarkable individuals lost to this unthinkable tragedy,” Gash said. “We will harness the strength found in the bonds of friendship and the community that unites us.”