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The Pepperdine community advocates for change in light of recent tragedy

Pepperdine students and parents alike are calling for a change to one of California’s most dangerous highways - PCH.

The Pepperdine community is coming together after tragedy recently struck involving a collision with four students on the Pacific Coast Highway.

Following the tragic deaths of four Pepperdine students on the Pacific Coast Highway this week, the university and local activists came together to call for safer driving speeds.

The four students were Niamh Rolston, Peyton Stewart, Asha Weir, and Deslyn Williams, all seniors at Pepperdine University.

According to Sherrif Officials, a driver on PCH lost control of his car and swerved into three vehicles, and the four seniors died on impact.

The University held a prayer service this past Thursday to mourn these losses.

The Sherrif’s department made a plea to slow down while driving on PCH because this is not the first time there has been a deadly crash.

Michel Shane, a filmmaker, lost his youngest daughter, Emily in a car accident on PCH and has advocated about making the area a safer place, acknowledging that there are others who have lost their lives in a similar manner.

Michel Shane: There were a lot of accidents, a lot of deaths on PCH. And a really couldn’t take more. And not being a political person and not being a journalist or a writer or anything like that. But being a filmmaker, I decided I had to make a document...When Emily died in 2010, she was the youngest person to die on PCH in probably 20 years, and we are now in 2023 and there’s been no real change to the Highway District seven that controls Caltrans District seven that controls Pacific Coast Highway in this area has been negligent.

He believes that reducing speeds may be the answer.

Shane: I think what Malibu needs to do is take control of a small portion of Pacific Coast Highway that runs through a heavily populated area where there are stores, where there are restaurants, where there are pedestrians, and turn that into a city street where in that section you don’t go over 25 miles an hour.

He voices that building walkways may be another effective method to prevent tragedies.

Shane: In the in the dream scenario, I said, you know, build some walkways, have them sponsored, make them architecturally beautiful, and big corporations sponsor them. Because if you’ve got 800,000, a million people visiting or you have 250,000 people using PCH as a thruway to their communities, these people will see this every single day. And if there’s a beautiful structure, a beautiful bridge, it makes it a lot more pleasant.

Emma Carter, a senior at Pepperdine University echoes the need for a safer environment.

Emma Carter: So suddenly, when you hear that these were girls who were doing absolutely nothing wrong, they were getting something out of someone’s trunk like parked in a driveway, were just killed in an instant...And that is to change like law enforcement and reduce speeding on Pacific Coast Highway. Just asking for something to be done. I think, unfortunately, accidents happen here all the time.

The area where the accidents occurred has been nicknamed the ‘Dead Mans Curve’. According to the documentary 21 Miles in Malibu there have been 17 fatal accidents on PCH since 2015.

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