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Irvine teen Ashton Sweet dies from injuries following Sunday crash

May 31, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Irvine teenager Ashton Sweet, 14, has been declared deceased, according to the Irvine Police Department. Sweet was riding in a car struck by a drunken driver Sunday.

Sweet's parents had made the determination to allow for organ donation, according to the Orange County Sheriff/Coroner's Office.

Sweet and three of her girlfriends were being driven home from a birthday party about 1:15 a.m. Sunday by the father of one of the girls, when they were hit by a suspected drunk driver in a Toyota pickup truck. The collision occurred at the intersection of Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard.

Two of the girls in the car with Sweet were hospitalized and then released. A third passenger, a 15-year-old girl, remained in critical condition Tuesday but was expected to survive.

The driver of the truck, 26-year-old Austin Farley of Irvine, remained in custody on $1 million bail for suspicion of felony drunk driving. He was scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday. Court records show Farley has a long criminal history and pleaded guilty to DUI in 2009.

Sweet was being kept on life support so her organs could be evaluated for donation. She was declared dead Tuesday afternoon.

Friends showed their support Tuesday for Sweet. Almost everyone arriving at Northwood High School Tuesday wore white in honor of Sweet, who was a freshman cheerleader.

"Instead of wearing black, we want to remember her for wearing white," said 10th-grade student Daniel Yoo. "So we can remember her sweet life as she lived and how nice she was."

The "wear white" message spread first via Facebook. "This is all student organized," said junior Ashley Yonamine. "Her friends came together and everyone is participating. Ironically, this has garnered more school spirit than anything else."

A vigil was also held at the scene of Sunday morning's crash.

"He took the life of one of the greatest people I've ever known," said friend Leah Nawav. "Her last name defines her. She was always sweet. She's going to be missed a lot."

"If it was an accident, people would be like, 'OK, it's an accident,'" said friend Arman Ghomi. "But when it's a drunk driver, the guy was irresponsible and the guy shouldn't have drank. It's just too many people die from drunk driving."

All week, Northwood High's principal is bringing in extra counselors.

"It certainly won't be business as usual," said Principal Leslie Roach. "A lot of kids in our community were absolutely devastated by this accident."

Students said seeing the sea of white helps them cope.

"Even though it is such a sad event it kind of brings the community as a whole," said 10th-grade student Ryan Tran.

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