Ashton Sweet memorial draws hundreds
On Monday evening, about 300 of Ashton Sweet's friends and family members jammed the brightly lighted Chinese Baptist Church of Central Orange County, to say a final goodbye.
The 14-year-old cheerleader from Irvine died in a Memorial Day car wreck allegedly caused by a drunk driver.
They sang "Amazing Grace" at the service. They dressed in green and white — colors, her mother said, of renewal. They laughed and shed tears, prayed and told stories.
On May 31, 2-1/2 days after her crumpled body was pulled from the wreckage, Sweet was pronounced dead.
On the night of the accident she and three girlfriends, all students at Northwood High School, were being driven from a birthday celebration by one of their fathers when his Mercedes-Benz was T-boned by a Toyota pickup.
Everyone in the Mercedes was hospitalized, most with minor injuries. Aside from Sweet, 15-year-old Krista Merassa was hurt the worst: She suffered a lacerated spleen and damage to her lungs but has since been released.
The truck's driver, Austin Farley, 26, has been charged with murder and driving under the influence of alcohol; he is being held on $1-million bail.
Uninjured in the wreck, he agreed to an interview at the Orange County jail with a Times reporter late last week in which he expressed concern for those who were harmed but didn't admit to causing the accident.
Read more about the memorial service and the accident that killed Sweet.
-- Lauren Williams and Kurt Streeter
Photo: A photo of Ashton Sweet is displayed at the church before her memorial service. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times