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Driver charged with murder in death of Irvine cheerleader

June 1, 2011 | 12:50 pm

Austin Farley A suspected drunk driver who crashed into a car carrying four teenage girls, killing one of them, was charged Wednesday with murder, authorities said.

Austin Farley, 26, of Irvine, had been drinking at a bar and had a blood alcohol level of .20%, two and a half times the legal limit when he ran a red light and crashed into a late model Mercedes-Benz sedan driven by the father of one of the girls.

Ashton Sweet, 14, suffered irreversible brain damage in the Sunday morning crash and was pronounced dead Tuesday. The freshman cheerleader had been kept alive on a breathing machine so her organs could be evaluated for donation.

Another girl suffered a broken nose, rib fracture, lacerated spleen and lung injuries and was rendered unconscious by the crash, prosecutors said. She remains hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries.

Prosecutors said Farley took a cab home after a night of drinking late Saturday but then got into his truck with his girlfriend to get some food. He was driving southbound on Culver Drive toward Irvine Boulevard when he allegedly crashed into the car.

Farley, who was charged with one felony count each of murder and driving under the influence causing injury with a sentence enhancement for intentionally and personally inflicting and causing great bodily injury, faces a maximum sentence of 20 years to life in state prison, prosecutors said.

He is being held on $1-million bail, and is expected to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon from a courtroom in Men’s Central Jail in Santa Ana.


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-- Paloma Esquivel

Photo: Austin Farley. Photo: Irvine Police Department