There was a sea of white Tuesday at Northwood High School in Irvine. Students decided on Facebook that they would wear white in honor of Ashton Sweet. That was hours before they found out she was dead.
Sweet, who suffered irreversible brain injuries in a weekend DUI car crash, had been on life support ever since. Her classmates knew there was little hope the 14-year-old would return to class.
"I really love that the school is doing this as a community," said Ashley Yonamine, a junior at Northwood High School. "Ironically, this has garnered more school spirit than anything else."
Local news from across Southern California
Court records show that Austin Farley, the suspect in the case, could be violent at times. They also show that he admitted he had a drinking problem and was diagnosed as having a moderate to severe obsessive compulsive disorder.
A Probation Department report showed that Farley (pictured, below) entered a so-called "batterer's intervention" program in 2008, where he got all scores of "5," indicating that he was making a good effort to address his problem.
But in 2010, his own parents got a protective order against their son, ordering him not to come within 300 yards of their home or workplace.
A year earlier, Alta Institute, a rehab center, refused to treat Farley. An Alta representative wrote to the court that Farley's father was frightened during an argument that apparently followed Farley drinking his parent's liquor. Alta said at the time that Farley admitted he had a drinking problem.
Police arrested Farley, 26, on suspicion of drunk driving early Sunday morning when he allegedly ran a red light, and then plowed into a car carrying four teenage girls and a parent who was behind the wheel. The parent was taking the girls home from a late night get together for his own daughter, who was about to celebrate a birthday.
The driver and two of the girls were out of the hospital within a few hours. One girl is still hospitalized. But Sweet, the most seriously injured victim, was finally pronounced dead Tuesday afternoon.
The suspect, Farley, was already charged with Drunk Driving. He could now face a much more serious case.