The 22-year-old driver of a BMW that crashed in Malibu, California, last week, killing four Pepperdine University students, has been charged with murder.
Fraser Bohm was allegedly speeding on Oct. 17 through a stretch of Pacific Coast Highway known as “Dead Man’s Curve” when he struck Niamh Rolston, 20, Peyton Stewart, 21, Asha Weir, 21, and Deslyn Williams, 21. Bohm was arrested Tuesday after initially being released while authorities investigated the crash, and court records show he has been charged with four counts of murder and four counts of vehicular manslaughter.
The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office announced that Bohm pleaded not guilty to all charges Wednesday and is being held in lieu of $4 million bond.
According to reports by The Malibu Times, the students were outside at a Halloween party before the crash, which happened about 9 p.m.
Speaking at a news conference last week, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Capt. Jennifer Seetoo said Bohm had “lost control of his vehicle” and swerved onto the shoulder, colliding into three parked vehicles and then striking the women.
According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Bohm was initially taken into custody on suspicion of gross vehicular manslaughter but was released soon after to allow detectives time to gather more evidence.
“These types of traffic investigations are very extensive, and there are various investigative factors that are involved,” the sheriff’s department said in a statement last week. “Our detectives worked diligently to compile all the evidence needed so they could file the maximum charges allowed under California law.”
Bohm claimed at his arraignment Wednesday that he was speeding because he was trying to get away from someone who was aggressively chasing him, according to KABC-TV in Los Angeles.
In a statement posted last week, the university mourned the students’ deaths, adding that they were beloved by the community.
“In this time of immeasurable grief and heartache, we stand together as a community and turn to our faith and each other to find hope and healing in the midst of this tragedy,” the statement said. “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.”
According to a separate post on Wednesday highlighting the students, the four were seniors in the university’s Seaver College of Liberal Arts and were members of the Alpha Phi sorority.
The school said they will be honored with posthumous degrees alongside their graduating class of 2024.
In recent days, family members have been mourning their deaths, with Stewart’s father asking anyone who wished to send gifts or flowers to instead donate to a memorial fund set up for the four women.
“I sincerely appreciate all of the kind wishes expressed to my family and I during this difficult time,” Stewart’s father wrote on Facebook . “I have not yet responded to all the messages from well wishers but I will do so in the coming days.”