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Top Ten Stories of the 1990s

December 30, 1999

public accountant who predicted with uncanny accuracy the county's

financial time bomb in his 1994 campaign for county treasurer. Few paid

attention to the warnings, dismissing Moorlach as a skewed public-office

candidate. Then-state Sen. Marian Bergeson even withdrew her endorsement

of him after he was too critical of then-Treasurer Bob Citron.

County officials did not call Moorlach for several days after the

bankruptcy. Despite his offer to serve as treasurer, they commissioned

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Bill Popejoy to get the county together. Popejoy left three months later

and Moorlach was finally asked in March 1995 to step in.

Moorlach was reelected in 1998 after running unopposed. With a more

conservative and well-documented investment strategy, which also includes

a four-member oversight committee, he is trying to put the past behind

him and move on. The public agencies that were affected say they are now

virtually fully recovered from the bankruptcy.

But one thing is certain: No one in this county will ever forget that

day.

6. IRVINE AVENUE CRASH. The story grabbed national headlines and tore a

community apart.

The circumstances weren't unusual for teenagers. Many adults would

admit they had indulged in drinking during their high school days. Some

would even say they have driven under the influence.

When a Chevrolet Blazer carrying 10 Newport Harbor High School

students skidded out of control on Irvine Avenue, residents sat paralyzed

as the drama played out like a made-for-TV movie. Over a two-year period,

there were angry words, civil lawsuits and even what some called a

miracle.

The driver of the vehicle, Jason Rausch, was the designated driver

after a party. Rausch was sober but some of his passengers had been

drinking. Rausch was driving erratically through a series of curves on

Irvine Avenue when the sports utility vehicle crashed into a median and

flipped over. One student, 18-year-old Donny Bridgman, was killed. The

remaining passengers were also injured. The most seriously hurt were

Amanda Arthur and Daniel Townsend.

Out of all the victims, Arthur captured most of the public's

attention. The accident had left Arthur with major head injuries that

kept her in a coma for three months. Without medical insurance, Arthur

was neck-deep in financial and fatal peril.

As the community began its outpouring of support for the Arthur

family, Amanda awoke from the coma. Though the injuries will always have

some effect on her, she returned to school and is now enrolled in a

junior college program.

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