MALIBU, Calif. — A prayer service was held Thursday morning as Pepperdine University mourns the loss of four students who were killed in a crash on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu.
The crash happened around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday in the 21500 block of PCH. The group of women were fatally struck when Fraser Bohm, 22, lost control as he was driving westbound, hitting at least three parked vehicles that then crashed into the victims. Two other people were injured.
The students killed in the crash have been identified as Niamh Rolston, 20, Peyton Stewart, 21, Asha Weir, 21, and Deslyn Williams, 21. They were all seniors at the university’s Seaver College of Liberal Arts and were also sorority sisters.
All Seaver College classes were canceled Thursday morning so students could attend the prayer and reflection service at the Firestone Fieldhouse in memory of the victims. Those who spoke conveyed a sentiment of deep grief.
“We recognize we cannot fully know the shock and the pain and the anguish of these parents receiving the unimaginable news,” said Dr. Connie Horton, with the university Student Affairs.
School officials announced that all four victims, who were set to graduate, will receive their degrees posthumously.
MORE COVERAGE: Driver arrested in crash that killed 4 Pepperdine students on PCH
Bohm, who suffered minor scratches and bruises in the crash, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. He has since been released from custody. A sobriety test was administered, but drugs and alcohol do not seem to be a factor.
The Los Angeles County Fire Department told Eyewitness News Tuesday that speed was likely a factor in the crash. The investigation is ongoing.
Residents in the area say speed has become a growing problem along that stretch of PCH.
“Since COVID there has been an increase of incredible racing up and down this highway, all night long,” Joan Zoloth of Malibu said.
“People in the community have complained and are really concerned,” Zoloth added. “And then you have something like this.”
According to data from the Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System obtained through UC Berkeley’s Transportation Injury Mapping System, between 2018 and 2022, there were 24 deadly crashes in Malibu – killing 25 people.
All but two of those crashes were on PCH, which killed 23 people.
Frustrated residents say they been complaining about the fraternity in the heart of a residential area and about the dangerous conditions along the iconic highway.
“There’s no sidewalks. You get a lot of bike riders, you get a lot of pedestrians,” Malibu resident Chris Hanson said. “And there’s no place for them to go but around vehicles, and they’re walking in the lanes. It’s not a safe situation.”
Pepperdine University President Jim Gash shared a statement Wednesday afternoon, confirming the victims were students.
“Earlier today, we learned that four precious lives who brought joy and light to our campus were taken from us suddenly, tragically, and incomprehensibly,” he wrote.
The message continued saying, “To the faculty and staff members who mentored and loved these students throughout their academic journeys both inside and outside the classroom, I offer prayers of comfort, support, and gratitude.”
“In this time of immeasurable grief and heartache, we stand together as a community and turn to our faith and each other to find hope and healing in the midst of this tragedy,” the university said in a statement. “Each departed student brought a unique gift and spirit to the University, and we deeply grieve the unfulfilled hopes and aspirations of our precious community members.”