Victim of head-on July 4 crash identified

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Summer Wheaton’s 2019 MBZ four door sedan was traveling East on Pacific Coast Highway when she crossed the center line and struck the 2020 Cadillac Escalade head on. The identity of the victim killed has been identified as 44-year-old Martin Okeke, a ride share driver, who died at the scene. Photo by Samantha Bravo/TMT

Rise, share driver, Martin Okeke died on scene; his young teenage passenger suffers injuries

The identity of the victim killed in a head-on collision July 4 in Malibu has been identified. 44-year-old Martin Okeke, a ride share driver, died at the scene on Pacific Coast Highway west of Carbon Canyon while driving a black 2020 Cadillac Escalade. Okeke’s vehicle was struck head on by a white 2019 Mercedes Benz traveling eastbound. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department said in a statement that a preliminary investigation found that the Mercedes Benz “crossed the center median for unknown reasons and collided head-on with a 2020 Cadillac traveling westbound.”

The driver of the Mercedes under investigation is identified as 32-year-old Summer Wheaton. On her eponymous website she advertises herself as: “a CEO and Founder of two innovative startups and a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering self-discovery, self-empowerment, and individual wellness. Her non-profit initiative focuses on encouraging self-discovery, providing resources for self-empowerment, and promoting sound of mind.”

The self-described social media influencer and wellness advocate has only 102,000 followers on Instagram. Her now private account indicates she sells or rents real estate in Malibu and Beverly Hills. 

She’s also been quoted on a website as saying, “What I live by, my mantra in life is: learn, master, manipulate.” and “Make sure you’re the winner in a capitalist society.”

04 Fatality on PCH July 4 SamBravo 1
32-year-old social media influencer Summer Wheaton was identified as the driver who caused the fatal incident on Thursday July 4. The collision occurred just around 10:20 p.m. the evening of Fourth of July. 

The tragic accident occurred at 10:20 p.m., shortly after the controversial July 4th party at Nobu restaurant concluded. Some Malibu residents are poring over photographic evidence and social media posts linking Wheaton as a guest at the party whose sponsors were wine, tequila, and Champagne bottlers. Tables at the event ranging from $10,000 to $75,000 all came with multiple bottles of liquor. There were no tickets advertised that did not include bottle service. 

One condition of the disputed Temporary Use Permit for the party was that guests were only to arrive by shuttle in an effort to avoid the huge traffic jam the party created in 2023 and also perhaps to avoid drunken drivers from getting behind the wheel. However, The Malibu Times, on the scene for an hour during arrivals, noticed multiple drivers who found parking across from the venue and walked in, presumably to walk to their vehicles afterward in order to drive home. 

LASD Malibu Liaison Sgt. Christopher Soderlund would not link Wheaton as a Nobu guest when questioned on July 6, saying, “As far as her being at Nobu, that is part of the overall investigation and unconfirmed at this time.”

Investigators are looking into speed and alcohol as possible causes of the tragedy. 

Not only was Okeke, a ride share driver, killed by multiple traumatic injuries at the scene, but Wheaton and a teenage passenger in Okeke’s vehicle were injured as well and taken to UCLA Ronald Reagan Medical Center Thursday night.

If Wheaton is still hospitalized, it may take some time for an investigation and determination of what charges could be filed. Wheaton could possibly face manslaughter or even a more serious charge connected to Okeke’s death. 

On Friday, July 5, the City issued a statement reading in part: “Mayor of Malibu, Steve Uhring, expressed his deep sympathy and concern over the incident: ‘We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life resulting from last night’s accident. This heartbreaking incident underscores the importance of the City’s ongoing efforts to address safety on Pacific Coast Highway.”

Only two weeks ago, the City of Malibu launched a safe driving campaign, “Cruise Malibu,” as a call to action to prevent speeding tragedies like the one in October. Malibu local Fraser Bohm is accused of speeding resulting in the crash that killed four Pepperdine seniors, Asha Weir, Deslyn Williams, Peyton Stewart and Niahm Rolston.

The tragedy on July 4 not only took a life and injured two others, it forced the closure of PCH at Carbon Canyon for nearly 10 hours. Scores of essential workers and others couldn’t get to work, doctor’s appointments, and other obligations of the day and may have lost wages. Hundreds were stuck in standstill traffic for hours.

Martin Okeke is the 61st person killed in a highway collision on PCH since the community started keeping track in 2014.