Memorial Service Held for Irvine Teen Killed in Suspected DUI Crash
Austin Jeffrey Farley was accused of driving with a blood-alcohol level more than 2.5 times the legal limit during the Memorial Day weekend crash that killed teen Ashton Sweet.
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Nearly 1,000 people wore green as a symbol of life and renewal as they gathered at the Chinese Baptist Church of Central Orange County to honor Ashton Sweet.
"She was my first true love and I will always love her and miss her," a former boyfriend said. "She was the daughter, the sister, the teammate, the friend and girlfriend everyone wished they could have."
Sweet was among 5 people in a Mercedes-Benz struck by a pickup truck that allegedly ran a red light at the intersection of Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard.
The truck driver, Austin Jeffrey Farley, has neither admitted nor denied fault for the death of Sweet, who was removed from life support after suffering irreversible brain damage in the Memorial Day weekend crash.
He said he feels terrible for the family of the former Northwood High School freshman, adding that he is "just a person."
Among those speaking at Sweet's memorial service was the driver of the Mercedes -- a friend's father -- who said his soul is ravaged and he is guilt-ridden about what happened.
Sweet's grandfather asked the crowd to thank God for giving them "14 precious years of Ashton."
Sweet was riding home with three friends after attending a birthday celebration when the accident occurred.
Another student at Northwood High School, 15-year old Krista Merassa, was hospitalized in critical condition with a punctured lung and broken ribs.
Elizabeth Sweet, mother of Ashton, told the OC Register that Ashton's heart, liver, kidneys and pancreas were donated last week along with cornea, arterial, skin and other tissue.
Elizabeth said it was not clear at first whether the teen's heart could be donated because it suffered a bruise in the accident, probably from the seatbelt.
Her liver was split into two parts for two patients, she said.
Each of the kidneys also went to separate people.
According to court documents, Farley, a 26-year-old construction worker, has been convicted of drunk driving once before. He also has a series of driving infractions and criminal offenses on his record including battery, resisting arrest, vandalism, and grand theft.
During a jailhouse interview, Farley said that he is not the "monster" that he feels the media has portrayed him to be.
Farley has been charged with one felony count each of murder and driving under the influence of alcohol causing bodily injury.
Farley is being held on $1 million bail. If convicted on all the charges and faces a maximum sentence of 22 years to life in state prison
Farley and his passenger were not injured in the crash.