MALIBU, Calif. (KTLA) – Four women who attended Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, were killed after being struck by a driver while walking along the Pacific Coast Highway earlier this week.

The crash happened around 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 17, east of the Malibu Pier near La Costa Beach, authorities said.

Pepperdine is located roughly four miles north of where the crash occurred.

“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,” University President Jim Gash said in a message to the Pepperdine community. “I join you in your grief as we process this profound loss.” 

During a Wednesday, Oct. 18 press conference, officials with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) identified the driver as 22-year-old Fraser Michael Bohm. He is now facing manslaughter charges. 

Investigators said Bohm was speeding in his dark-colored BMW westbound on the Pacific Coast Highway when he lost control, sideswiped several parked vehicles, and crashed into the young women who were walking in the area. The four victims were pronounced dead at the scene.

Two other victims, who were not immediately identified, were taken to a nearby hospital in unknown conditions. 

Witnesses said they saw the driver get out of his wrecked car unharmed before being pinned to the ground by several people. 

Bohm was arrested on charges of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence. A DUI investigation is still pending, the LASD said. Bohm has since been released from custody pending further investigation, according to Deputy Roger Schalkx. 

Malibu Fatal Crash
Authorities on Oct. 18, 2023, investigate a fatal crash in Malibu that occurred one day earlier. (Photo: KTLA)

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. 

The three other victims were later identified as Peyton Stewart, Asha Weir, and Deslyn Williams. All four of the victims were seniors at Pepperdine’s Seaver College of Liberal Arts.

“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,” Pepperdine University Vice President for Student Affairs Connie Horton said.

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A woman who has lived in the area for many years told News 2’s sister station, KTLA, that the area of the Pacific Coast Highway where the women were killed is known as “Dead Man’s Curve” due to the high number of crashes, nearly all of which involve speeding drivers.   

Plans for a memorial service with the families of the students are underway. The university said it would hold a prayer service on Thursday, Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. for members of the Pepperdine community, followed by a candlelight vigil at 8 p.m.