Father of Pepperdine student killed in PCH crash hopes for changes to make road safer

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Thursday, November 2, 2023
Father of PCH crash victim hopes for changes to make road safer
"I hope to, I guess, honor Peyton, by helping folks work towards changing things there so that the highway's made safer," said the father of Peyton Stewart, one of four Pepperdine students hit and killed in a crash on PCH.

MALIBU, Calif. (KABC) -- It's been two weeks since four Pepperdine students were killed in a crash on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, and the father of one of those young women says though it's been rough, he'll never forget his beloved daughter.

"I look back and say she had a happy, although far too short, life," said Barry Stewart, the father of 21-year-old Peyton Stewart. "She accomplished a fair amount in that short life."

Barry said it was always Peyton's dream to attend Pepperdine University.

"Peyton was where she wanted to be with people she wanted to be with doing what she wanted to do," he said

The three other victims were identified as Niamh Rolston, 20, Asha Weir, 21, and Deslyn Williams, 21. They were all sorority sisters and seniors at Pepperdine's Seaver College of Liberal Arts.

"They were a close bunch and they had a lot of good times together," said Barry. "I could tell how devastated the other families were when we met with them in California, so we'll always have that bond."

MORE COVERAGE | PCH crash victims, all sorority sisters, honored during Pepperdine prayer service

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.

Push for safety on PCH

Following the students' deaths, there's renewed attention to safety issues along PCH. A safety study was released in 2015 with 130 recommendations, many of which include adding raised medians, crosswalks, or adjusting turn lanes. One of the recommendations was to look into building a complete sidewalk between Carbon Canyon and Rambla Pacifico, the very stretch of road where the four students were killed.

The reason, according to the report, was "to increase pedestrian safety along PCH." However, the study was never done and sidewalks were never built.

CalTrans, which manages PCH, told ABC7 this was ruled out because there's no easement. It has highlighted several other projects in the works, such as a left turn arrow on to Las Flores, and synchronized lights, set to go into effect next year.

"That's frustrating, but I hope to, I guess, honor Peyton by helping folks work towards changing things there so that the highway's made safer," said Barry.

READ MORE | PCH safety: 2015 report listed hundreds of recommendations, but has anything changed?

A report released eight years ago listed more than 100 recommendations to improve safety along PCH but many of them have not been implemented. Here's what's being done now.

Fraser Bohm, the 22-year-old driver in the crash, is charged with four counts of murder and four counts of gross vehicular manslaughter.

His attorney claims he was trying to get away from someone who was aggressively chasing him just before the deadly crash. Investigators say Bohm was speeding when he lost control of his car and hit several parked cars, which crashed into the students.

READ MORE | Malibu crash: Driver was victim of road rage before collision, lawyer says

"A defendant is going to come up with a story of why they're not culpable. I expect that," said Barry. "Now, is it true? I don't know. For me to opine, it would be speculation. So I'll just leave it at that."

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