Tragedy Claims Lives of Four Pepperdine Seniors on PCH, Injures Two Others
By Dolores Quintana
On Tuesday, October 17, at 8:30 p.m., a deadly crash on Pacific Coast Highways took the lives of four Pepperdine seniors, Niamh Rolston, Peyton Stewart, Asha Weir, and Deslyn Williams, who were reportedly studying at the undergraduate campus, Seaver College. Pepperdine University confirmed their identities on Wednesday. Two other people were injured and taken to local hospitals, but nothing further is known about their conditions at this time.
22-year-old suspect, Fraser Michael Bohm, was arrested at the scene and later released. According to Los Angeles Sheriff Sgt. Maria Navarro, Bohm was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence after driving his dark-colored BMW at a high rate of speed, according to investigators as quoted by The Associated Press.
Investigators also stated that they believe Bohm lost control of his car, which then hit three parked cars. The parked cars then hit a group of people walking or standing alongside PCH. The crash happened about four miles east of Pepperdine University’s campus in Malibu in an area that investigators said is known for being dangerous as it is called “Dead Man’s Curve,” as reported by Fox 11 News. The Lost Hills Sherriff’s Department issued an alert about the area between Carbon Canyon to Las Flores Canyon that night on their social media pages.
Los Hills LA Sheriff’s Department Captain Jennifer Seetoo noted in the press conference that speeding is a problem along PCH and is highly dangerous since there are many pedestrians walking near the highway and parking their cars. LA County Fire Capt. Sheila Kelliher-Berkoh said, “It’s tough. Everybody picks up their speed… this is a very heavily populated pedestrian area, so it’s one of those scary things where it’s like ‘Hey people, slow down.”
Pepperdine’s president and CEO, Jim Gash, released a statement that says, “No day is more devastating to a tightly knit university community than the day that forces us to come together in grief and sorrow. Earlier today, we learned that four precious lives who brought joy and light to our campus were taken from us suddenly, tragically, and incomprehensibly. Indeed, 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.
As a parent, the loss of a child is an unimaginable tragedy. No words can appropriately convey the depth of my sympathy to the families who are living through a reality no parent would ever want to endure. You are not alone. Pepperdine stands with you as you traverse these challenging waters.
To the students who loved, lived with, and were in community with the departed members of our Pepperdine family, my heart is broken with yours. I join you in your grief as we process this profound loss.
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.
When the weight of grief feels insurmountable, and we find ourselves walking in a dark valley, my hope is that we experience the comfort and presence of our God, who promises to walk with us and give us strength. As we walk this path together, I pray we gain strength and comfort from one another. In the embrace of our community, we also pray for the fortitude to navigate this painful journey, knowing that we are not alone.
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. We will harness the strength found in the bonds of friendship and the community that unites us. And we will take comfort in the Lord, who provides us with the supernatural strength and peace required to carry on. I know that God holds Pepperdine in his healing and loving arms and protects our community as we grieve and honor these dear loved ones. With a heavy heart, Jim Gash.”
Excessive speed on city streets and highways is a concerning issue locally, as the S.M.a.r.t architects have noted in one of their columns, The 30 MPH City, about speed limits in Santa Monica.