Jacqueline Badger Mars, the 74-year-old heiress of the Mars candy empire, will face a reckless driving misdemeanor charge for her role in a fatal car crash on Oct. 4 that left an 86-year-old woman dead.
The granddaughter of the company's founder, Mars is the world's seventh-richest woman, according to Forbes magazine
, with an estimated net worth of $20.5 billion.
Mars was behind the wheel of her Porsche SUV when it reportedly veered across the double yellow line and collided with a 2013 Chrysler minivan in Aldie, Va., killing 86-year-old Irene Ellisor of Huntsville, TX.
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There were five additional passengers in the minivan at the time of the accident, all of whom were subsequently hospitalized with the minivan driver also being seriously injured, the Daily Mail reported. It was not reported whether Mars
herself suffered any injury as a result of the accident.
The Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney's Office announced the charge on Tuesday, having previously filed a search warrant affidavit that stated Mars had told an associate immediately after the fatal crash that she had fallen asleep behind the wheel, the Associated Press reported
In a statement, Mars family spokesman Kent Jarrell said, "As court proceedings begin, Jacquie's thoughts and prayers remain with those who have suffered injury and loss. She regrets this tragic accident."
Mars is scheduled to appear in court on Dec. 5.
Founded in 1911, Mars Inc. began in a Tacoma, Wash., kitchen and grew exponentially after it invented its signature malt-flavored nougat in 1929, which today remains the filing of Milky Way and Snickers candy bars, the Daily Mail noted.
With $30 billion in annual sales in 2012, Mars Inc. is the 3rd largest privately held company in the United States, responsible for the production of numerous popular candies including Dove chocolates, Twix, 3 Musketeers, Skittles, and M&Ms, of which there are more than 400 million produced in the U.S. daily.
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The company also produces a variety of pet food products, including Pedigree, Greenies, Nutro Products, and Cesar; as well as various types of chewing gum under the Wrigley Company, which is a subsidiary of Mars Inc.
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