Deadly Pacific Coast Highway Accident Followed Driver Leaving Nobu Malibu’s Unpermitted July 4th Party

Nobu Malibu is under scrutiny from local investigators, the city’s officials and residents after the restaurant went ahead with its exclusive Fourth of July party in defiance of the city’s denial of a permit to throw the boozy bash. After the festivities, an attendee drifted her car into an oncoming driver, killing a motorist and injuring a passenger on the increasingly deadly Pacific Coast Highway.

Ahead of the July Fourth party, which was attended by celebrities like Wiz Khalifa and Mike Tyson, the city of Malibu had denied Nobu a temporary use permit to hold the event because the owners did not comply with conditions related to traffic and safety. Memories of the traffic nightmare that ensued amid Nobu’s 2023 Independence Day event were likely still too fresh; two-hour traffic jams resulted on the PCH from Nobu guests abandoning their limos and party buses in the highway median.

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“There were party buses, limousines, private coaches, and what they did was — because there wasn’t any parking for them — they took over the center median and left their vehicles there on PCH and left their vehicles there,” Sgt. Chris Soderlund said at a city council meeting on July 10. “There were dozens and dozens of vehicles.”

Despite this permit denial, Nobu went ahead with the bash hosted at the Bootsy Bellows Club at the high-end Asian eatery. Perry Wander, Nobu’s attorney, wrote ahead of the event that the permit “was NOT flawed and incomplete” and said the denial violates his client’s rights. After the event, the Malibu Daily News reports, he wrote it went off “without a hitch,” but soon deleted the post.

According to one local resident who owns a business across the street from Nobu, a “mess” was left on the side of the road by the limousines, buses and other vehicles that again clogged the highway on the Fourth of July. Malibu city manager Steve McClary said at a City Council meeting on Monday night that this was a violation on Nobu’s part.

That potential violation by Nobu is being investigated as the possible cause of a July Fourth tragedy that came on the PCH when Summer Wheaton, a well-known social media influencer in the wellness space was driving from the event in her 2019 Mercedes Benz, “crossed the center median for unknown reasons and collided head-on with a 2020 Cadillac traveling westbound.” The Cadillac’s driver — who has not yet been named by authorities pending notification of his next of kin — died at the scene, while Wheaton and the Cadillac’s passenger are being treated with non-life-threatening injuries.

The Los Angeles Police Foundation said in a statement that the cause of the collision remains under investigation and further details will be provided as they become available. A call placed Wednesday by The Hollywood Reporter to a detective at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station was not immediately returned.

On Saturday, chair of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors Lindsey Horvath tweeted about the accident, saying that it was a senseless death and naming the victim as 44-year-old Martin Okeke.

“Crushed by the senseless death of Martin Okeke, who lost his life on PCH last week,” Horvath wrote. “This heartbreaking tragedy underscores the urgent need for robust safety measures, which we are actively working on w/ our state partners. We won’t rest until everyone on this road is protected.”

Mayor of Malibu Steve Uhring spoke about the accident on July 5, also noting the ongoing effort to make the PCH safer.

“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life resulting from last night’s accident,” he said. “This heartbreaking incident underscores the importance of the city’s ongoing efforts to address safety on Pacific Coast Highway.”

The iconic PCH has become synonymous with Southern California lifestyle. Gov. Gavin Newsom recently called the road “one of the most iconic drives in California, if not the world.” Yet an analysis by the Los Angeles Times found the number of deaths and injuries along the PCH rose every year from 2018 through 2022 — four of which were particularly harrowing and nonsensical. The safety crisis hit a low point when four Pepperdine students died after they were struck by a speeding motorist while walking along PCH on Oct. 17, 2023. The Malibu City Council declared a local emergency on Nov. 13 to address the risks to public safety of “dangerous, illegal, reckless, and/or distracted driving on Pacific Coast Highway in the city.”

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