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14-year-old crash victim suffers irreversible brain damage

Ashton Sweet A 14-year-old victim in a suspected drunk-driving accident early Sunday morning suffered irreversible brain damage and was being kept on life support so doctors could assess whether her organs could be donated, according to Irvine police.

Police identified the victim as Ashton Sweet, a student at Northwood High School.

She was one of four girls, all 14 or 15, riding in Mercedes-Benz driven by one of their fathers around 1:15 a.m. Sunday when it collided with a Toyota pickup near the intersection of Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard, police said.

All suffered injuries of varying degree and were transported to local hospitals for treatment.

By daybreak Monday, friends and strangers were posting condolences and anti-drunk-driving messages on a Facebook page set up in Sweet's honor.

The pickup driver, 26-year-old Austin Farley of Irvine, was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. He and his passenger were unhurt, police said.

Police are still investigating the accident.

Farley has a long history of arrests, and in 2009 he pleaded guilty to driving under the influence and battery on a police officer or emergency worker, according to the Orange County courts online database. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to driving with a suspended or revoked license and refusing to submit to a chemical test for driving under the influence.

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-- Alan Zarembo

Photo: Ashton Sweet, 14, who was critically injured in a suspected drunk-driving accident in Irvine. Credit: Sweet family

 
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