MALIBU ‚Äî Months after the dust settled on one investigation, Malibu City Councilman Skylar Peak¬†has become the subject of another.
Sheriff‚Äôs officials say Peak is under investigation for a possible hit-and-run on Christmas Day after allegedly crashing through more than 400 feet of road delineators on Pacific Coast Highway and abandoning his damaged pickup truck near Westward Beach.
It all began on Christmas morning when authorities received a 911 call at 7:05 a.m. from a witness who reported “aggressive and angry driving” on Pacific Coast Highway near Zuma Beach, said Det. Dave Huelsen of the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff‚Äôs Station.
Deputies responding to the scene at 7:30 a.m. found a white¬†GMC Duramax truck with front-end damage and leaking fluids partially blocking the roadway near the intersection of Westward Beach Road and Zuma Bay Way, approximately two miles from Guernsey Avenue.
After running the truck‚Äôs license plates, deputies determined it was registered to Peak, Malibu/Lost Hills Capt. Joseph Stephen said. The councilman was not at the scene when deputies arrived.
“From what the witness describes the person was doing, it was reckless driving,” Huelsen said.
Peak confirmed to sheriff officials on Monday that he was driving the vehicle as it headed eastbound on PCH and drove over a 411-foot stretch of yellow paddle barriers and “qwick kurb” just east of Guernsey Avenue, Huelsen said.
The damaged delineators have not been repaired yet, but Caltrans estimates it will cost between $3,000 and $4,000 to replace 23 damaged paddles.
In a telephone interview with The Malibu Times on Monday, Peak would not comment on the specifics of the ongoing investigation but denied allegations of reckless driving and described the incident as a “total accident.” He said he intended on returning for the truck after leaving it near Westward.
“[The truck] was parked on the side of the road and it was in a safe area where people could go around it,” Peak said.
The 28-year-old councilman left for a surf trip to Hawaii either Christmas Day or the day after and remained in Hawaii as The Malibu Times went to press. When asked why he left his vehicle or where he was going before he left it, Peak did not respond, but forwarded questions to his attorney. He also did not explain the circumstances surrounding the collision.
“He has an explanation as to why he damaged the property,” Huelsen said. “We‚Äôre still trying to investigate what exactly happened.”
Peak‚Äôs attorney, Michael Schwimer, said Peak could not answer any questions due to an open investigation.
“Given that there is currently an ongoing investigation, Mr. Peak cannot make any specific comments regarding the alleged events in question,” Schwimer said. “Mr. Peak trusts that after the investigation has been concluded he will be absolved of any wrongdoing.”
Peak, who suffers from bipolar disorder, confirmed again on Monday that he does not take medication for his condition, which was diagnosed in May.
“The only thing I‚Äôm taking is a really good, strong regimented workout,” Peak said Monday. “I think it‚Äôs the best thing you can do, actually.”
Peak has been the focus of several controversies both on and off the dais since taking office nine months ago and becoming the youngest person to ever serve on the Malibu City Council.
In July, Point Dume Village security guards alleged Peak ran through the shopping center parking lot in a Speedo swimsuit and threatened them with a scissor blade after they confronted him for yelling and tossing chairs in the shopping center‚Äôs patio area. He was taken into police custody that evening and spent five days at a county hospital while undergoing an involuntary 72-hour psychological evaluation following the incident.
In August, the Malibu City Council voted 3-2 to appoint Joan House as mayor pro tem instead of Peak. Traditionally, the person who receives the highest number votes in the City Council election is chosen for the job. Peak received more than 1,400 votes in April while House received 1,067 votes. Mayor Lou La Monte and Councilwoman Laura Rosenthal cited concerns over the investigation surrounding the Point Dume allegations and argued that he needed more time to deal with personal matters and learn to serve on the council.
In September, prosecutors cited insufficient evidence and opted not to press assault charges against Peak for the July incident at the village.
This article first appeared in the Malibu Times.