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Irvine may move cheerleader's impromptu memorial

Stepfather of girl who died in Memorial Day weekend crash says the city has been 'very respectful' in request to change location.

August 26, 2011|By Lauren Williams, lauren.williams@latimes.com

A memorial at the site of where a drunk driver allegedly killed a 14-year-old Irvine cheerleader may be moved at the request of some residents, the victim's family said.

Ashton Sweet was killed May 29 in a car crash at Culver Drive and Irvine Boulevard when a driver hit the Mercedes-Benz that she and three other friends were riding in after they left a birthday party.

Soon after the crash, the corner's utility box and traffic signal were covered with farewell messages, while flowers and candles covered the sidewalk.

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Three months after the girl's death, candles are still lit almost nightly, said the victim's stepfather, David Pidcock.

"It's important for us to have somewhere to go," Pidcock said. "We want something there … I love the fact that the candles are still there."

The city suggested transitioning from the impromptu memorial to a more permanent site and has discussed planting a memorial tree or placing a plaque, said Irvine city spokesman Craig Reem.

"Nothing would be done without consulting with the family," Reem said. "The transition is not really an end but a beginning. Our whole idea of a tree that breaths life into the community is a good starting point."

"A plaque would be great," Pidcock said, adding that city officials have been "very respectful" in contacting the family about the change.

About 430 people have RSVPed to visit the corner Sunday wearing white, green or purple in support of keeping the impromptu memorial on a page Pidcock's son Christopher set up on Facebook.

Meanwhile, alleged drunk driver Austin Jeffrey Farley, 26, faces felony murder charges in Sweet's death, as well as a felony charge for driving under the influence and causing injury, and a sentencing enhancement for inflicting great bodily harm. He is scheduled to appear in court Oct. 6 for a preliminary hearing in the Newport Beach Harbor Justice Center, Department H-1.

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