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DUI crash in Irvine leaves teen girl gravely injured

May 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A 14-year-old girl was gravely injured after the car she was riding in was struck by a suspected drunken driver.

Three other teenage girls and a man who was driving them were also injured when they collided with a Toyota pickup truck about 1:15 a.m. Sunday at the intersection of Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard in Irvine.

Authorities said 48-year-old Irvine resident Michael Ghaemi was driving a late-model Mercedes-Benz with two 14-year-old girls and two15-year-old girls to his home from a party when they were hit by 26-year-old Austin Farley.

All five in the Mercedes were transported to area hospitals. The 14-year-old girl, Ashton Sweet, was left nearly lifeless. One of the 15-year-old girls is in critical condition but is expected to survive. The other two girls and Ghaemi were treated and released.

Sweet remained on life support Sunday while her family arranged to have her organs donated, according to family friends.

The two people inside the Toyota were not injured. Farley, of Irvine, was arrested and booked at the Orange County Jail for felony DUI. His bail was set at $100,000.

All four girls are freshmen at Northwood High School. Ghaemi is the father of one of the students, Parisa Ghaemi.

"I had to see her in pain, her face was covered in blood," Parisa Ghaemi said about Sweet. "That image just keeps playing in my head over and over again. It keeps haunting me."

Hundreds of people, including classmates, friends and family, held a candlelight vigil Sunday night at the intersection where the crash happened, leaving candles and flowers behind.

"It doesn't even seem like it really happened, it just feels like a dream - I wish it was," said Ali Rivas, who was one of the teens riding with Sweet.

"This is all very devastating to not only our family but our community," said Celeste Dadgar, a parent of Sweet's friend. "We're so angry that this could happen to a sweet little girl."

Sweet is a cheerleader and a member of the Northwood High track team. Friends have asked students at Northwood High to wear white when school resumes on Tuesday.

Farley has a long record, including a previous conviction for driving under the influence, according to Orange County court records.

City News Service contributed to this report.

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