Chapman student dies during shooting at Imperial Sand Dunes

A 29-year-old film student at Chapman University died Friday after an off-road vehicle crashed into a sand dune near the Arizona border.

“It’s the most terrifying thing any of us have ever experienced,” said Stephen Galloway, dean of Chapman’s film school. “It was an extraordinary cinematographer.”

Galloway said the student who died was named Peng Wang. He originally hailed from China and was set to graduate this semester.

Three USC film students, who were wearing their protective equipment, survived the crash. Students from Loyola Marymount University and the New York Film Academy were also on the shooting.

An off-road vehicle drives near the US-Mexico border fence at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area, east of Calexico, California, on December 30, 2018. – Located in the desert on the USA/Mexico border, the park is a popular off-road destination in Southern California. Increasing militarization of the border has forced immigrants to try and make way through dangerous remote areas in the desert, where thousands have been killed over the years along the US-Mexico border.

APU Gomes / AFP via Getty Images

“Our deepest sympathies go out to the family members of the deceased student at this tragic loss,” USC Dean Elizabeth M Daly wrote in a statement. “We also send our condolences to the Chapman University community.”

The accident happened at the Imperial Sand Dunes Recreation Area just before 1 p.m. on April 15. According to the California Highway Patrol, USC student Bianglang Li was driving along a sand dune to identify the Chapman student, along with two other USC students, Ting Su and Xiang Li.

“All of our cinematography faculty were very close to him,” Galloway said. “They all knew him, they all loved him.”

The students’ off-road vehicle, the 2022 Can-Am Maverick, began to overturn and crash into the side of the dune, partially ejecting the Chapman student, killing him.

Investigators said harm was not a factor in the fatal crash and that all passengers except the victim were wearing proper safety equipment.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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