Woman killed while crossing PCH in Malibu near Moonshadows restaurant

Tragedy struck again on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu Saturday night when a 21-year-old woman was hit and killed by a limousine near Moonshadows restaurant.

The woman, identified by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office as Sarah Salam, was hit around 8:45 p.m. as she and her boyfriend attempted to cross the highway from the Moonshadows side in the 20300 block of PCH to a parked car on the north side, according to officials with the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s station.

Salam was in the number two westbound lane when a limousine driver traveling westbound from Santa Monica struck her, traffic Det. Richard Curry said. Salam’s boyfriend had finished crossing the roadway and his back was turned at the time of the accident.

“She was knocked forward and to the left because the limo swerved when he hit her,” Curry said. “Her body landed in the median.”

Authorities originally stated the limo driver was attempting to make a left onto PCH out of the Moonshadows parking lot while Salam and her boyfriend stood in the center median, but Curry said that was not the case.

The accident shut down PCH from just before 9 p.m. on Saturday until 2 a.m. on Sunday morning.

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The unidentified limo driver, who worked for Arielle Limo Service of Los Angeles, stopped at the scene and fully cooperated with investigators, Curry said. According to investigators, the driver was not speeding at the time of the accident and passed a field test for drugs and alcohol.

“He was given a field sobriety test and also a preliminary alcohol screening test,” Curry said. “He also voluntarily gave a blood sample to civilly protect himself.”

The driver was not arrested. The traffic investigation into Salam’s death remains open while detectives continue their factfinding. Curry estimated it would be four or five months before it concluded.

Salam, who came from Germany, posted a photo on Instagram of her enjoying a drink from the Moonshadows deck just hours before her death. According to her Facebook page, Salam worked in the fashion industry and attended school in the United Kingdom before moving to Los Angeles in March 2012.

Moonshadows restaurant is often brought up as one of the more dangerous pedestrian spots on PCH in Malibu, as customers tend to park on PCH across from the restaurant. Valet workers also routinely cross the dangerous roadway.

“Whenever you put a restaurant and a bar that close to a highway with not enough onsite parking, ultimately, bad things are going to happen,” Mayor Lou La Monte said.

Franco Simplicio, the coowner of Moonshadows, said he has made several attempts with Caltrans to improve safety issues in front of the restaurant.

“We’ve asked for reductions in speed for the traffic. We’ve asked for a pedestrian crossing, we’ve asked for different types of things, we’ve asked for barriers in the middle of the street. We’ve tried to do our best,” Simplicio said. “We’re not oblivious to the fact there’s a problem with people crossing PCH.”

Simplicio said the problem extended to the length of PCH, referring to parking at Zuma Beach in particular. He would be hosting members of the city’s public safety commission and City Council at the restaurant in coming days to speak about safety improvements.

La Monte said the City of Malibu may be at a loss to enact serious change when it comes to safety on that stretch of PCH.

“The parking and PCH traffic issues are always Caltrans- and Coastal [Commission]-driven,” he said.

Salam’s death marked the third pedestrian fatality on PCH in Malibu this year. On Feb. 11 tow truck driver Ronald Carver was hit and killed by an alleged hit-and-run driver while assisting a motorist near Pepperdine University. Jill Rose, 44, was charged in the case with one count of felony hit-and-run and another count of misdemeanor vehicular manslaughter. A court date has not been set in that case.

On Feb. 26 Luis Adolfo Olmedo was killed by a car on PCH between Encinal Canyon Road and Mullholland Highway in western Malibu. Olmedo’s death was ruled an accident and the driver of the vehicle was not detained. The City of Malibu will host two public meetings on May 7 and May 9 to public input for an ongoing PCH safety study. The meetings, which will take place at Malibu City Hall at 6 p.m. both nights, will discuss traffic conflicts, accident patterns and road conditions.

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