LEESBURG, Va. (AP) — An owner of candy company Mars pleaded guilty Thursday to reckless driving but will not serve jail time for causing a crash that killed an 86-year-old woman.
Jacqueline Badger Mars, 74, one of the world's richest women, was instead sentenced to a $2,500 fine after victims of the crash and family members pleaded with the judge to forgo a jail sentence, saying they had forgiven Mars. Her driver's license was suspended for six months.
Irene Ellisor of Huntsville, Texas was riding in a minivan during the afternoon of Oct. 4 when it was struck head-on by Mars' Porsche SUV.
The driver of the minivan, Ashley Blakeslee, was eight months pregnant and suffered severe injuries that resulted in the loss of the unborn child.
Prosecutor Nicole Wittmann said Blakeslee survived the accident "because little Charlie took the brunt of the impact," and that the family considers him a hero for saving his mother's life.
Sharron Acker, who was also in the minivan and was to have been Charlie's grandmother, said in a statement she read to the judge before Mars was sentenced that "we only have forgiveness in our hearts for her. ... We hope that she too in time can find peace."
The women in the minivan were in town for a wedding.
Mars, using a walker that she needed from the result of her own injuries, apologized for her conduct.
"I know I can't go back in time. I can't change what happened," Mars said. "I will always live with the grief and loss caused by this tragedy."
Court papers say Mars told a witness she fell asleep just before the midday crash in Aldie, near Middleburg.