Pepperdine students Niamh Rolston, Peyton Stewart, Asha Weir and Deslyn Williams, were honored during a prayer service Thursday morning after being victims of the fatal collision on Tuesday night.
“None of this makes any sense; our worlds have been shattered, our hearts have been shattered,” Pepperdine President Jim Gash said. “To find hope in the midst of dispair, god wants us to grieve. God expects us to grieve.”
Tim Spivey, associate vice president for Spiritual Life; Horton; Michael Sugimoto, Student Government Association president; Provost Jay Brewster; and Gash spoke at the service.
The university shared information on the service on social media.
“As we continue to grieve the tremendous losses of four members of our community, the Pepperdine community is invited to celebrate the lives of Niamh Rolston, Peyton Stewart, Asha Weir, and Deslyn Williams on Sunday, October 22, 2023 at 2 PM in the Firestone Fieldhouse,” the post says.
The four students were honored with academic achievements with posthumous degrees alongside their graduating class of 2024.
“We deeply grieve the unfulfilled hopes and aspirations of these bright young women,” the post says.
The university released the students names on Wednesday afternoon.
“It is with profound sorrow that we bring this message to the Pepperdine community about the tragic passing of four beloved members of our student community. As you know, we sought official confirmation and the opportunity to speak with the families before releasing the students’ names,” the press release says. “The pain we collectively bear may be overwhelming, especially to those who best knew and loved these students. The University stands ready to provide spiritual and emotional support to all members of our Pepperdine family.”
The university extended their deepest condolences to the family, friends, and loved ones and stands ready to provide spiritual and emotional support to all members of their Pepperdine family.
“We encourage those who feel they may need support to contact the Counseling Center (310.506.4210), where counselors are available to talk 24/7. Online and out-of-state students can access ongoing counseling using the TimelyCare app. Student pastoral care is also available from Tim Spivey, associate vice president for spiritual life, and the team at the Hub for Spiritual Life. For additional support or to locate a mental health professional in your community, contact the Student Care Team. Faculty and staff may reach out to University chaplain Sara Barton.”
Many family, friends and those who new the students shared photos of them on social media.
Founder & CEO at Vivid Candi Creative Chris Wizner said Asha volunteered at the Chili Cook-Off earlier this year and was devastated when he heard the news.
“There was no kinder soul than that of Asha Weir. I worked with her at the Malibu Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce and then again at my marketing agency Vivid Candi. I’m sad to say I was her last path in her career and she has so much more to offer. She was unique. When I had my 40th birthday earlier this year, she took the time to show up with a gift in hand to hand delivered to me and wished me a great birthday,” Wizner said.
“When the chamber hosted an art event on the Pepperdine lawn, she was there full of smiles and support. Just 6 days before she passed, my wife and I talked to her about babysitting our 3 month old daughter. We trust her that much. She always went above and beyond leading with her beautiful heart first. She is exemplary of everything good in this world and she was so pure. Her and the other 3 girls passing can’t be in vain and we must MAKE PCH SAFER, yesterday! It’s that urgent. I will be speaking at Malibu City Council Monday with many others on this matter.”
The Student Body President Michael Sugimoto shared a statement on social media honoring the students.
“The past couple of days have been incredibly difficult. We’ve all carried the weight of grief, confusion, and sadness. It’s been a time of deep reflection and introspection, and the pain we’ve experienced has been profound. But despite all of this, we’ve chosen to gather here, to support one another, and to find strength in our shared presence. We need each other more than ever,” the post says. “As a community, may we come together in love and understanding, supporting one another through this difficult journey. Your willingness to be here, to stand together, and to be a part of this community during these trying times. Let us continue to lean on one another, share our stories, and find solace in our shared strength. Together, we will find a way to heal, because we are stronger when we face life’s challenges as a united family. Thank you for being a part of this beautiful and resilient Pepperdine community.”
Sugimoto submitted a photo of the candlelight vigil and prayer service that was held on Thursday, October, 19 at 8 p.m. in the Pepperdine Amphitheater where over 1,100 people gathered together.
“Our campus is shattered. We are broken. We are hurting. We are sad. Student have carried the weight of grief, confusion, and sadness. It’s been a time of deep reflection and introspection, and the pain we’ve experienced has been profound,” Sugimoto said in an email to The Malibu Times. “But despite of this, we’ve chosen to gather here, to support one another, and to find strength in our shared presence. We need each other more than ever. As a community, we have come together in love and understanding, supporting one another through this difficult journey. We are here for each other, standing together, and leaning on one another, sharing our stories and find solace in our shared strength. Together, we will find a way to heal, because we are stronger when we face life’s challenges as a united family.”
LA County Supervisor Lindsey P. Horvath provided a statement in regards to the incident.
“I am devastated for the families of the four young female students killed Tuesday night in Malibu, and for the entire Pepperdine University community. Yesterday, I spoke with the leadership at the University to offer my condolences and support for all who need it at this sad time. I also spoke with Malibu Mayor Steve Uhring and LASD Captain Jenn Seetoo, and we are unified in our call for action,” Horvath said. “At their request, I have asked Governor Newsom to include Malibu in the speed camera pilot being explored by the state and will work with our legislators to ensure necessary steps are taken to improve safety on our state highways in the area, including PCH.”
The City of Malibu also released a statement in regards to the loss of the four Pepperdine students.
“The City of Malibu is committed to doing everything possible to improve safety on our 21 miles of PCH, which has long been a top priority for the community. The City was shocked and saddened by the loss of the four Pepperdine University students on October 17. Our hearts are with all of those who have been impacted by this tragedy. While the City does not control PCH, since its incorporation, Malibu has worked closely with Caltrans, the LA County Sheriff’s Department and our other partner agencies to find ways to make PCH safer for residents, motorists, pedestrians and cyclists. We will continue to push for resources to achieve a higher level of safety for our community.”
The city shared a list of projects and programs on steps they have taken to enhance safety on PCH. To view the list of projects, visit malibucity.org.
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