Pedestrian Killed Crossing PCH on July 2

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A pedestrian was struck and killed when attempting to cross Pacific Coast Highway near El Matador State Beach on Saturday afternoon, July 2.

LA County Coroner’s Chief Investigator Ed Winter identified the pedestrian as Spencer Garrett Wickander of Peoria, Arizona.

Wickander was in the area to visit his brother, who lives in North Hollywood, Winter said. Wickander was with his girlfriend at the time of the accident, who was also hit but survived.

El Matador State Beach is a popular location during the Fourth of July weekend, but without adequate parking, many out-of-town visitors park on both sides of Pacific Coast Highway. Since there is no crosswalk for assistance, many visitors run across PCH, a four-lane road with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour.

Wickander was pronounced dead at the scene at 5:27 p.m.

Malibu 4th of July attendance continues downward trend

Officials said they were surprised by one of the milder Fourth of July weekends in the past couple years.

“I was talking to another sergeant and he was saying it’s more tame than it has been in years,” Sgt. Shawn Ruda of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station said.

A total of 378,850 people visited Malibu over the three-day holiday weekend. That was a 15 percent decrease from 2015 when 450,000 people visited the beaches.

Officials have suggested that this year’s decline in attendance could be attributed to Independence Day falling on a Monday, whereas in the past two years the holiday was on a weekend: Saturday in 2015 and Friday in 2014.

In 2014, 584,000 people came to Malibu for the Fourth of July weekend. Compared to 2014’s numbers, visitor beach attendance in Malibu this year was down 35 percent.

The majority of Los Angeles County Fire Department North Lifeguard Battalion’s actions over the weekend were preventative measures. Over 12,000 preventative measures were taken and kept more serious incidents from occurring across the multiple beaches in Malibu. Emergency vehicles responded to 96 incidents, and 245 rescues were recorded among the guard towers from Nicholas Canyon  to Surfrider Beach.

Despite the influx of visitors, Malibu’s beaches are already back to their normal states.

“Zuma Beach is looking pretty clean right now,” Lifeguard Cpt. Daniel Murphy said. Zuma Beach was visited by 300,000 of the 378,850 visitors this year. 

The beaches were safe, but the parks were safer. Malibu’s Search and Rescue (SAR) Team reported zero incidents over the entire weekend.

“The parks were extremely busy but there were no incidents,” SAR Cpt. David Katz said.

Malibu SAR reported zero incidents July Fourth weekend in 2015 as well. However, 2016 has been busy for the organization. To date, 62 rescue calls have been made in 2016 so far. Katz said rescue calls have picked up since summer began, with May and June having 16 incidents each.

Weather over the weekend was cool and mild, with foggy mornings. The average temperature in Malibu was 68 degrees, and the maximum temperature peaked to only 71 degrees on July 4. The cooler weather may have inspired some potential visitors to stay home.

Traffic may have played into this year’s decreased numbers. According to some residents, the frequent backups and traffic jams along PCH have become more prevalent in Malibu, but the data is hard to quantify. City-employed traffic engineers released data in 2015 stating that traffic has not increased on PCH in the past 20 years — figures many residents disbelieved. 

Lost Hills and Malibu Sheriff’s Department didn’t provide The Malibu Times with any traffic related information, including number of accidents or calls reported over the weekend.