The day after a crash killed four pedestrians, believed to be Pepperdine University students, on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, officials Wednesday lamented the safety concerns that for years have plagued the stretch of highway running through the seaside city.

Shortly before 9 p.m. Tuesday, a car slammed into three parked vehicles and the four women, who investigators believe were near the parked vehicles when they were struck, according to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

The L.A. County Department of Medical Examiner said the four pedestrians were all women in their 20s but did not release additional information, pending identification or notification of next of kin.

Pepperdine University officials said in a statement that the school “has reason to believe” the four victims were students at the Seaver College of Liberal Arts. The university is about four miles from where the crash occurred in the 21600 block of Pacific Coast Highway.

Fraser Michael Bohm, 22, was arrested on suspicion of vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence, said sheriff’s Sgt. Maria Navarro, watch commander at the Malibu/Lost Hills station. Bohm suffered minor injuries in the crash and received medical attention before being booked into jail.

The crash remains under investigation, but Navarro said alcohol was not believed to have been a factor after deputies conducted a field sobriety test. She would not say whether speeding was suspected, but a statement from the city of Malibu on Wednesday cited a “speeding motorist” as the cause of the deadly crash.

The 21-mile stretch of PCH that runs through Malibu is an ongoing concern, with speed being the leading cause of fatal traffic collisions, Capt. Jennifer Seetoo of the Malibu-Lost Hills station said at a press conference Wednesday.

“We need to do something different,” Seetoo said. “We’ve got to work together as a community. There’s too many people on this stretch of the highway that have been killed.”

Mayor Steve Uring said he would like to see more state support on the issue, especially a return of the California Highway Patrol, which doesn’t patrol the incorporated stretch of PCH in Malibu. He is also hopeful Malibu will eventually be able to take advantage of the state’s new pilot program for speed cameras.

“We’ve got this major highway running through the center of our city — it’s a racetrack; it has been for years,” Uhring said. “We need some help.”

Malibu Mayor Pro Tem Doug Stewart agreed, calling Tuesday’s crash the latest tragedy along what has become a dangerous section of the highway.

“These four deaths are just tragic,” Stewart said. “Your hearts just go out to the parents.”

He called for more patrol deputies on the road — which he said has been a staffing issue for the Sheriff’s Department — as well as more technology to improve safety. This summer, Malibu began construction on a new traffic light synchronization project, which leaders called the city’s “most significant measure to date to improve traffic safety and mobility on PCH.”

“Speed is not our friend,” Stewart said. “We’ve got speed limits and some traffic enforcement, but we need more.”

According to the city, Malibu has had more than 4,000 traffic collisions on its 21-mile stretch of PCH in the last decade — including more than 1,500 that involved injuries. In the same time period, excessive speed was the most common violation given on more than 100,000 traffic citations, according to the city.

Pepperdine has not released information about a memorial for the victims, but President and Chief Executive Jim Gash said that “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.”

“As we walk this path together, I pray we gain strength and comfort from one another,” Gash said in a statement. “In the embrace of our community, we also pray for the fortitude to navigate this painful journey knowing that we are not alone.”


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