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Irvine teen hit by suspected drunk driver dies

May 31, 2011 |  4:54 pm

Students at Northwood High School in Irvine wore white shirts as a tribute to classmate Ashton Sweet, who was pronounced dead Tuesday after suffering irreversible brain damage when the car she was in was struck by alleged drunk driver over the weekend.

Sweet, 14, was declared dead at 1 p.m., Irvine Police Lt. Henry Boggs said. The freshman cheerleader had been kept alive on a breathing machine so her organs could be evaluated for donation.  Austin Jeffrey Farley

She was one of four teenage girls in a late-model Mercedes-Benz driven by one of the girls' fathers early Sunday morning when the car collided with a pickup near the intersection of Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard.

One girl remains hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries, and everyone else has been released, Boggs said.

The girls were returning from a birthday party.

As grieving classmates returned to Northwood High after the Memorial Day weekend, their school was grappling with the tragedy and extra counselors had been brought in to help students.

"We will be reaching out to classmates and friends, and anyone who needs additional support right now," said Ian Hanigan, a spokesman for the Irvine Unified School District.

The driver of the pickup truck, 26-year-old Austin Farley of Irvine, was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and was being held on $1-million bail, according to Boggs, who said Farley’s first court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.

Farley and his passenger were unhurt.

Sweet was on the school’s cheer squad and track team and participated in a group that helps students with disabilities, Hanigan said.

In 2009, Farley 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.


Teen hit by suspected drunk driver left brain-dead

-- Kurt Streeter and Lauren Williams

Photos: (top) Northwood High School students at a roadside memorial for Ashton Sweet at the intersection of Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard in Irvine.  Credit: Allen J. Schaben  / Los Angeles Times.

(bottom) Austin Jeffrey Farley. Credit: Irvine Police Department